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Hiring Software Engineers?

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

If you are hiring software engineers read this first.

It's not a secret that "good" software engineers are in high demand, and hard to come by.

While many companies focus on coding skills, and training, organizations with high employee retention levels focus on a more holistic set of requirements. We'll get there in a minute..When we take a look at, let's say Silicon Valley, where many of the great innovations of our modern age have sprung from, we notice a gaping whole between software engineers, and managers. Let's face it, many software developers are not Type A personalities. I'm not going to say the majority, but a significant percentage would rather work with computers than people.

When you hire someone "only" based on coding prowess, you effectively work counter-intuitively. Most systems have a human component. Many innovations are set forth through collaborations,which demands understanding human motivation. You might think the strong desire of being able to pay your bills, and plan your future is a strong enough motivating factor to excel at the current role, right?

Well, actually the reasons professionals stay at a job often have nothing to do with making a mortgage payment, and are more in line with satisfaction, culture, educational opportunities/training and opportunities to advance. When you hire software engineers, you have to keep in mind that you are creating the talent pool you will be fishing a future manager from. Unfortunately, great coding skills is not synonymous with good people management.

The findings in this Gallop Employment Engagement Study indicate Managers are responsible for a significant portion (70%) of an employees engagement level at work. This data is further exacerbated when in the same study we read that 50% of all job quitters do so to get away from a bad boss. There are many variables that comprise bad management, and that is an entirely different blog post. The bottom line is we want to be more proactive about hiring people that can be groomed for management roles. A way to do that is by looking beyond coding skills.

There are several tech roles that do not require human interaction, and collaboration. Those roles are often off-site or executed in silos. We are not talking about those jobs, and frankly, we are really not focusing on a particular function, but rather what your organization should consider when evaluating a candidate's potential internal equity at the company.

What you should be looking for:

Communication skills- Does the candidate answer your questions in a cohesive, and intelligible way? Does the candidate stay on point, and asks, if you would like them to expand on the information given. Or is it more like pulling teeth? Does the candidate seem reticent or just not knowledgeable about what is being asked?

Communication is a two way street. If, you are not being asked your understanding of what was said or any other relevant questions, then it is not communication. Communication is a noted skill for Leaders in almost every field of expertise.

Leadership- Has the candidate taken the lead on a project? How many members on the team?

Who was responsible for KPIs, Metrics or any other type of performance measurement?

Applicants with natural leadership qualities tend to take the initiative. Sometimes, you'll have to ask more poignant questions, but the truth will reveal itself.

Professional Presence- Does the candidate come across confident, competent, and curious? Intellectual curiosity is not something that can be taught. Unlike the other two qualities, you either are interested in things or you are not.

Professional Development-What was the last time they took a class to learn something new or upgrade a skill? What is the emerging trend in the space? What are they most excited about in the industry?

These types of questions really give you some insight on whether your opportunity will be just a job or if this is someone who has passion!

It's not the easiest market for hiring awesome software engineers. And as the Gallop Study shows, good managers are almost an obsolete specimen. It is of critical importance to not hire shortsightedly. Always keep in mind where the company, and industry are headed. Technical know how is great, and coupled with solid soft skills, and leadership potential, and you'll have a robust talent pipeline to draw from time, and time again.

Need some assistance finding the best candidates for your company? We can help, give us a call 1 (800) 748-0518 or book an informational call here.

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