When it comes to hiring programmers, you can’t settle for “good enough.” But what’s the difference between a solid candidate and the right one? The answer to that question has a lot of layers—and that’s where developer candidate personas come in.
Candidate personas are hiring profiles of your ideal candidate based on real data and educated speculation. They help you understand the developers you want to hire on a professional and personal level, which makes it much easier to target your recruiting strategy to them.
When you sit down to craft your personas, you might find yourself staring blankly at a white screen with no clue how to begin. Before you spend time and money on research, ask these questions to yourself to help you develop them.
It’s no secret that experience matters in software development. But take another look at the makeup of your engineering team. You’ll probably find that most of your developers have completely different professional backgrounds, but hold similar job titles.
Experience level shouldn’t be taken lightly, but you could miss out on talented developers if you don’t think critically about your range. How many years has your ideal candidate been coding professionally? How flexible are you willing to be for developers who otherwise seem qualified for the job? What does your team consider “professional coding experience?” If you need additional clarity, ask a few of your current developers to fill in the blanks.
Imagine that one of your current PHP developers wants to hire someone to replace them, and that you’ve just asked that person to write a job description. What would they identify as the must-have skills? What are some of the technical proficiencies that would be nice for this person to have? How did your persona learn these skills? Did they teach themselves, learn on the job, or take a course in their free time?
Sure, most developers are currently employed. But that doesn’t mean they’re completely satisfied with their jobs. Go into detail about the challenges they face at work, and hone in on how those problems affect them.
Let’s go back to our PHP Developer example. Because they’re responsible for storing and securing customer information, they probably get a lot of direct feedback from customers and have a hard time managing it. This pain point is much different than those of a Front-End Developer, who’s more concerned about how quickly their website loads on a consumer’s device.
Creating your candidate personas requires you to go beyond the core indicators of their success. What types of projects are your personas leading right now? Which initiatives beyond their scope of work are they helping their colleagues execute? Knowing these answers will help you learn how your company can help them achieve their short and long-term career goals.
It’s almost impossible to close the deal with your persona if you don’t know how they evaluate job opportunities. Aside from salary, what matters to this person? Do they want to be able to choose their own equipment? Are they worried that they’ll be asked to work long, unreasonable hours? Are they looking for new and exciting career growth opportunities?
In addition to interviewing your tech team, try reaching out to developers in your network to hear their thoughts. Your developer candidate personas will be even more useful when you can definitively say, “Our ideal developer candidate is often worried about these things in particular.”