Let’s say that you’re looking to hire a senior developer. You'd probably focus a lot of your attention on candidates who already have the word “senior” in their current job title, right? That might be an obvious place to start, but you could also miss out on qualified developers by focusing too much on their current job titles.
So what should you focus on instead—and why does it matter? To help you evaluate candidates more efficiently, here are a few hard truths about why developer job titles aren’t the most important piece of the puzzle.
Imagine that your inbox is full of candidates who aren't at the "level" you need. You could eliminate all of those candidates without reading any further, but most job titles won't tell you much about a developer's ability or experience level.
Matt Sherman, an Engineering Manager here at Stack Overflow, recently explained that we only hire more experienced developers, which means he looks for candidates who have been coding professionally for anywhere between 4-6 years. Most developers he hires receive the same title, but that alone is not indicative of their level of experience or scope of responsibilities.
There’s still no consensus about whether to describe people who write code for a living as developers, programmers, or engineers. Even if the world’s coders decided to use one of those terms as a universal descriptor of their jobs, it still wouldn’t capture what each developer does on a daily basis. Every company has tech stacks they rely on, but developers are applying them to their work in a variety of ways. The efforts of some might be geared towards supporting internal sales teams. Others might be building web applications that allow customers to do their jobs more efficiently. In any case, the candidates you’re recruiting might share similar developer job titles, but are likely working on different projects—and it’s up to you to understand what your company needs before ruling out candidates based solely on their job titles.
Your job is to find the right developers for your team. You might be able to glean that candidates like to write code because they have been doing so professionally for a few years. But if you make general assumptions based on developer job titles alone, those people will likely turn their attention to the employers who have shown more of a genuine interest in getting to know them.