I hate resumes. They’re misleading. I wish I had a dollar for every time an applicant over exaggerated their experience, expertise and knowledge. Titles get thrown around—Senior Developer, Senior iOS Developer, Technical Leader—only for our team to uncover the truth during development: they were rookies.
This is a common problem in the industry. I’m sure what I’m going to write about holds true across many other industries, but for now, I will focus on recruiting technologists.
The way we hire talent is:
- Creating the right job postings;
- Ignoring GPA scores;
- Setting a high standard;
- Viewing previous samples of work;
- And testing them out.
The way we find talent is no different than any other place in the world: word of mouth referrals or job postings. I want to share with everyone our hiring process in hopes that it helps others revaluate their process or improve upon it.
When we post open positions, we’re very specific. If you’re looking for someone that will focus on building backend architecture, don’t write down that you require HTML or CSS knowledge. What’s the point? It’s like saying you want an architect but they need brick laying experience. If you do that, you’ll automatically eliminate candidates who are potentially a perfect match for what you need.
A good idea is to have a technical person on your team review the job posting to ensure you’re communicating the right skillsets your company requires. A jack-of-all-trades is ideal, but extremely difficult to find. Have a focus. Be specific.
Degrees and GPAs don’t always translate to excellence. My friends in the industry have recruited folks who were top of their class or had graduated with honours from a top tier university. They sucked. This isn’t always the case, but sometimes a reality.
Grades, university degrees are irrelevant to us. We had an engineer on our team who we considered a junior developer based on his work and reported to one of our Tech Leads. He then left us because he got accepted to MIT for their PhD. On the other hand, our CTO, who is the most talented engineer I’ve met, only has his high-school diploma, but an incredible amount of passion.
Don’t let grades be your only standard. Passion, engagement, problem solving skills, are all things that aren’t necessarily embedded within a GPA score.
SET A STANDARD
We require excellence. Our standard is: if they’re skills or work don’t wow us, we’re not interested. Every company needs to set a standard based on the work they expect from all team members.
Our standards are not set by me, marketing or project managers; our technical team sets them. If they can’t trust them to architect beautiful and elegant tech solutions for Fortune 500 brands, then we choose to not have them on the team. Companies don’t like having inexperienced engineers but then again, experienced engineers don’t want to be doing data entry or HTML work either.
Standards are important. Make sure the standards are set according to the position you’re hiring for so it’s a win-win.
ASK FOR CODE SAMPLES
This is what resumes don’t show—true coding and problem solving skills. It’s impossible to get through our doors without our technical leads or CTO reviewing code samples and backend architecture. This weeds out people who send us URLs to great looking apps, but with an awful backend.
We’ve seen lots. Web applications and platforms with the best lipstick in the world, but the lipstick is on a frog. At the end of the day, it’s still a frog and we don’t like frogs. Another popular way to review code samples is to ask for their GitHub profile. It accomplishes the same goal of seeing what you’re getting into.
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY
The best decision I’ve ever made a few years ago was to try out developers before we offered to hire them. It’s the last step of the interview process. If we could build an application internally in about a week, we would give the applicant three to four days to complete the task. This demonstrates to us:
- Their ability to work under pressure;
- Their ability to solve a problem they’ve never encountered;
- And their passion for wanting to join the team.
Upon successful completion of the test project, after our CTO gives the “go," we welcome them with a bonus for the time spent during the interview process. It’s a fair approach and allows you to gauge their talent and fit within your organization without going through an expensive and timely process of having them onboard, only to find out, they were never a good fit.
These are the key and core principles we employ at Majestic Media when recruiting mobile, social and web engineers. I’d love to hear back from the community on anything they think would be useful to add to the list to help tech companies and start-ups hire more effectively for their needs.