If you’re anything like I was when I was a recruiter, you probably have a list of qualifications that you feel that you need to see on a developer’s resume. There’s a lot of pressure to find candidates that your hiring managers would be excited to interview, so it makes perfect sense to be selective. However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that a developer is an ideal candidate for the job because of a long list of tech languages on his or her resume. Evaluating developer applications requires a different approach than the other open roles on your plate. Here are a few things to look for whenever you gear up to kick off the resume screening stage of your developer hiring process.
Sure, you’ll come across a handful of developers during the resume screening stage that make you say, “This person knows our entire tech stack. We’d better make an offer before someone else does!” The biggest issue with making this assumption is that you’d be forgetting how easy it is for candidates to cram every tech language they’ve ever worked with on a resume just to get past an ATS screen. Matt Sherman, an Engineering Manager here at Stack Overflow, says that he looks for evidence that an applicant is passionate about programming. He continues by saying, “The résumé must reveal that the candidate absolutely loves programming—that, perhaps, it’s a focus inside and outside of the office.”
Ultimately, you need to hire developers because your engineering team has some urgent projects they need help to complete. Of course, the resume screening stage requires you to determine whether or not a developer has the right skill set to hit the ground running. What’s even more crucial is knowing that a particular candidate has a track record of getting things done. While it might be interesting for a hiring manager to discuss approaches to software development with a smart candidate, none of their knowledge will be a benefit to your company if he or she isn’t capable of agreeing to and hitting project deadlines.
What would you say if I asked you to describe your ideal developer candidate pool? My guess is that you’d probably start by asking for a pile of resumes in which each candidate knows your current tech stack forwards and backward. That would help you address your engineering team’s short-term needs, but our CEO Joel Spolsky says that conducting a resume screening session based on a list of buzzwords is the worst way to hire developers. Instead, he suggests looking towards the future when evaluating a developer’s resume. He adds, “For someone who is basically a good software developer, learning another programming language is just not going to be a big deal. In two weeks they’ll be pretty productive.”