Technical Recruiting

A little bit of a rant on technical recruiting….

I feel like recruiters go one of two ways when trying to recruit candidates for jobs. And keep in mind I don’t really have the answer here but there has to be something better out there right? Some recruiter has it figured out.

I say this because right now in my field I am actively being headhunted. I think just like anyone else it feels good to be wanted, but do they really want me? The job descriptions sometimes don’t really match what they are looking for or they are so narrow they might miss out on a great candidate who they may have to invest in. And that’s the biggest problem really, companies don’t see new hires as investments, they see them as assets and if you don’t have the asset they are looking for right now, they won’t even sniff an investment even if you might pay higher dividends in the future.

So what are the two tops of recruitments I see? One is extremely narrow. Meaning, it doesn’t really matter what type of experience you have, your background, how well you pick up concepts, if you don’t experience in this particular library, you are automatically ruled out. For example, you could be a proficient UI developer with great overall JavaScript knowledge and some complimentary libraries such as jQuery or even Backbone, but without Angular knowledge, no dice for you. Of course, they will ask cursory questions to test your knowledge but really it doesn’t matter. Once they hear, you have no professional Angular experience, it’s all over. And really how many coders out there have extensive knowledge of all these different libraries. As a coder in these situations, it’s pick your poison. If you become really proficient in one library/technology you shut yourself out to other possibilities, not just in jobs, but in other libraries, languages, styles that may be more conducive to the project you are working on.

The other type of recruitment I see is something I like to call the all aboard! In reality, I haven’t seen much of these lately. You know these! These are the ones where someone lists every possible language and library they have ever heard. You as a candidate really have no idea what kind of coding they are expecting until you actually get in front of them for an interview. These usually require 100+ years of experience. These are even worse in my opinion because now you are just shooting in the dark and you are likely to get a ton of candidates but not one with a particular skill set you are looking for.

So what do I do differently, have done differently, or would do differently? Well, if I am looking for a front end coder, UI specialist, I will make sure they know JavaScript and are familiar with some of the library technologies that we use. I am not saying proficient but general knowledge. I wouldn’t dismiss someone out of hand. A glance at a resume would let me know what they have and I would give them some expectations to meet before the interview. For example, someone with Angular experience who I was expecting to do work in Backbone, I would ask them to become familiar by reading the docs and then hopefully regurgitate some of the high level aspects of the library. If a person can quickly grasp the concept, the rest is just details.

I prefer to make investments in people. I like to look at code examples over time to see how people progress (even if it’s just from college). Anyone on my team, I expect them to take time out of their month to keep up to date on new technologies or refining their own skills.

The biggest problem with technical recruiting today is that the people doing the recruiting for tech companies are not really tech people themselves. They know a lot of jargon, and they find you on LinkedIn and then they rush you in front of the client. It’s a competitive business (as I’ve found out) and I have flat out rejected some offers because I didn’t think it would fit. Their incentive is placement, not necessarily the right placement.

Lastly, please don’t take this as me bashing technical recruiters. Their job is important. Any good coder worth their salt is already working and the only way to find really good hires right now is to snatch them from other companies. Recruiters can do that. Maybe tech companies could do a better job of writing job specifications. Tech companies should look at hires as making investments as well. Like I said, I don’t have the answers, these are just my experiences, but there are places we could start.