Are you having trouble finding the perfect talent for your company's needs and values? Read on to learn more about how you can think outside the box and find the talent nobody else has yet discovered. Our guest blogger, senior developer Lokajit Tikayatray, shares his learnings from his years in the industry.
In software job postings, it's common to emphasize years of experience as mandatory to even be considered for a role, and many believe these years as a crucial metric in order to find the best candidates. But as talent in our industry becomes harder and harder to find, it's neccessary to change the mindset a bit. And the truth is that there is a huge possibility of finding hidden talent, if we just expand the experience check box a bit.
There are many software engineers out there with the right skills but and the wrong experience. The assumption is that if the candidate has spent the required number of years doing the job, they're better suited for the position. And while it might be convenient to screen candidates based on their years of experience, it could make the process harder than it should be.
Does the number of years on the job actually matter?
The short answer is no, it doesn't. What really matters is the developer's willingness to perform, their skillset, and how well they can use it to execute their assignments.
During the interview process, the interviewer usually wants to assess whether the candidate can do the job. Simultaneously, employers like to be sure that the candidate has the potential to thrive, adapt to the work culture, and deliver quality products.
In my career, I have worked – and still work – with several junior developers. Many are excellent software engineers, even if they haven't spent much time in the software industry. Due to their eagerness to learn and the ability to quickly adapt, they perform with equal or sometimes greater, efficiency than their experienced counterparts.
Some of these juniors have so much potential that their leaders choose them to lead projects – even if there are more experienced programmers in the team. We have even earmarked some of our talented juniors to become future architects and the team now provides them with relevant assignments to prepare them for future roles.
So, what's the right way to evaluate a junior developer and see if they're as good as a senior developer?
Instead of looking at the number of years of experience, employers should emphasize the required skillset. As long as the candidate has the required skillset, they should be considered for the position. Instead of focusing on working experience, their potential can be tested in other ways.
1. Focus on skills
It's crucial to look at what the person has done with their experience, not just the number of years they have been doing it. Someone with the right knowledge and skillset can better fit the job than someone with more years of experience.
2. Use the same questions as you would for senior developers
Interviewers can test the junior developers by asking them questions asked to seniors during the interview process. Most of these questions are usually based on in-depth knowledge of technology, which I am confident any junior developer can acquire through training and hands-on practice.
It's true that with more practical experience, developers come to know of the boundary conditions that don't frequently occur during daily project execution. But junior developers might also have the experience if they have worked on similar issues already. It might be wrong to assume that all juniors lack edge case experience, just because they have spent fewer years in the software industry. And to be honest, the knowledge of programming languages or tools usage doesn't drastically vary with the number of years. If junior candidates can write clean code, understand design patterns and frameworks and follow coding standards; it's a good sign of their capability to do the job.
3. Give the juniors a chance to try – you might be surprised!
I worked with many junior developers in one of the most significant integration projects: when Dell and EMC systems had to be integrated post the historic merger of the companies. Many of these engineers surprised us with their enthusiasm to learn and rise to the occasion. Our leaders were open to giving the juniors an opportunity, and the developers made the most of it, to prove they could deliver. We truly saw that junior developers with the readiness to learn and hunger to succeed, can be as good as a senior developer – if not better.
4. Focus on the candidate's approach and thinking, not only the solution
Interviewers should also assess junior developers' problem solving ability and determine if they can think out of the box. They can evaluate juniors by giving them real-life problems, to see if they can find solutions. Even if the candidate cannot come up with a definite answer, their approach to finding a solution can tell a lot about their capability.
Another factor weighed in favor of senior developers is their ability to handle pressure situations. The assumption is that experienced programmers must have handled many escalations successfully, because they have been doing the job longer. However, based on my experience, this is again an incorrect assumption.
Less skilled developers don't tend to jump into the firefights, no matter the amount of years they've spent in the role. Instead they usually depend on others to handle the escalation. Likewise, the right junior developers could be much better at handling pressured situations – if they only get proper support from their leaders. Plenty of software engineers can do the job, even if they don't have the required years of experience.
5. Use assessment tools
Hiring managers can also consider giving offline assignments to test candidates' skills based on their specific job requirements. Give them the task and time to do it. Once they submit the assignments, ask them about their approach while working on the task. Check if they faced any challenges and how they overcame them. These are great ways to find out if developers have the potential to perform the job with the required quality for your team. If they can write clean code, follow coding standards, handle pressured situations, are eager to learn new things, and understand the technology – they will most probably be a good fit for the job.
Take Away – Don't judge the book based on it's cover
– And don't judge the junior candidate based on the lack of experience in years. There are so many other factors thats could be more helpful to determine a persons capability to do a job well, and who knows – your might find unexpected talent!
If you're a recruiter or an employer, consider the above factors while filtering resumes for your next job posting – or when filling out your matching profile on Demando. It can help you reach a wider talent pool and fin high quality candidates. If a junior developer can demonstrate how their skills can benefit the company during the interview process, they might be a perfect fit for your company, with or without the perfect resume.
I hope this blog post can help break the myth that the number of years spent in the tech industry is an accurate metric to filter out resumes, and inspire to try new ways of finding the perfect talent that will help take your company further.
Guest writer: Lokajit Tikayatray
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