Historically the written resume has been very important when recruiting new co-workers. The resume has been the main source to understand what a person knows and what their experiences are. But as it’s just a piece of paper and we’re looking for a good craftsman there’s been a mismatch. The “do you really know the techniques they’ve listed on the resume” feeling has always been nagging in the back of our minds during hiring processes.
One way that people has dealt with this is to put candidates thru different codes excises such as the Fizz Buzz test.
“Write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100. But for multiples of three print “Fizz” instead of the number and for the multiples of five print “Buzz”. For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print “FizzBuzz”.”
Tim Rayburn even wrote a BizTalk version of the FizzBuzz test http://timrayburn.net/blog/fizzbuzz-for-biztalk/ – can you solve in 5 minutes? ;)
Even though the FizzBuzz test definitely has its place in an interview situation, it doesn’t give a deeper understanding of the different skills a person might have such as code structure, architecture, cloud solutions, API handling, and source control and so on. To really understand how good or bad a person is we need to see more code, more actual work! That’s where new platforms such as CodePlex, GitHub, Stack Overflow etc. plays a role. If a person I’m interviewing can show a project on GitHub that shows decent code structure, good code quality, shows that the persons understand version control it beats almost any resume when recruiting for a technical position!
But hey, what about culture fit?
Culture fit is of course extremely important! It’s actually so important that if I have to choose between a technically skilled person with the wrong culture (that would for example be arrogance, anti-social tendencies, a non-team player etc), and a not so technical person but someone that has the will to learn and an otherwise excellent culture fit, I’d probably suggest we’d go with the later. But of course we’re always looking for those people that have a combination of both!
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So what should you as a developer type do to prepare for the future?
1. Start a blog Every developer should have a blog. A blog is a good idea for a number of reasons. It makes you a better writer. It leaves a trail of breadcrumb showing what you worked with and how you solve problems. It hopefully shows you’re skilled within certain areas and it actually works as you very own extended brain as you can always go back and see how you solved things in the past.
2. Start an open source project As a developer you’ll almost always work on some code that can be shared. And sure, putting code out in public can be both a political internal struggle and also requires some extra work when it comes to clean things up so anything that shouldn’t be public isn’t.
3. Show yourself Try to get to do some public speaking, first internally at your company and then at your local user group and so on. It will not only make you get better at public speaking but it will also show that you’re skilled and nevertheless that you have a passion for what you do!