It’s not difficult to find articles and stats on the red-hot tech hiring going on, especially for developers with very specific skill sets and the stamina to apply them in an endless series of all-nighters. Mobile, data and security advancements continue to whip up demand. This week, InfoWorld’s Dan Tynan has a fresh look at the “war” for the best developer talent, and the frantic lengths that companies will go to as they seek to nab as many of these human prizes as they can.
At a time like this, some companies might not be as discerning, if they feel pressure to lock down talent ASAP. And even young developers who really just love to code can succumb to the lure of the next big paycheck or perk package.
How do recruiters and hiring managers pluck the development talent with the skill and passion to continue learning and build a long, successful career?
I almost missed a very interesting post on this very challenge. Anthony Hooper, writing for SD Times, examines the emerging pain points in hiring developers who can be shaped to perform at the highest levels of their craft – and he does consider development a craft.
The spreading “Tech ADD” he references in his title will sound familiar. In our personal lives, we joke with our friends that we all have “ADD” because our attention spans are so fragmented by streams of incoming data. Some young developers have the same problem – in their work. Two things happen: Nobody has the full story on anything, and everything kind of mashes together.
“Developers know how to create a cookie by typing a single line of code, but they don’t understand how tiny pieces of technology frameworks and protocols work together to enable the creation of a cookie on the end user’s computer,” writes Hooper.
It’s really the old garbage-in-garbage-out scenario, and it’s not the approach that will lead to a successful development career, writes Hooper. “Their idea of ‘programming’ often involves just throwing together various plug-ins, frameworks, libraries and, in some extreme cases, a few bits of code that are already floating around in the public domain. But this can easily lead to a common software design pitfall we call ‘the big ball of mud.’ This is a program so tightly coupled that it’s very difficult to scale or customize, and it’s rarely robust enough to handle large volumes of users.”
When hiring developers for his large consultancy, Hooper looks for individuals who can comprehend the connection between the most sophisticated, highly scalable, and sometimes even fun and sexy apps, and “old-school heavy lifting,” like C++. It’s not impossible to find developers who have the fundamentals under their belts and are open to being molded, he notes, just challenging. He likes to say to new hires, “For the first few months, you’re going to feel stupid and I don’t want you to think that’s a bad thing.”
It’s certainly a different message from “Here are all the tech toys you have ever wanted, plus free Mountain Dew,” but one is focused on finding a job-applicant match and the other is focused on creating a career-applicant match.