Whenever I was asked about how good I was, and if I was fit for a project, I would always put forward my portfolio. I felt that my level and skill would be best described by my work. The amount of projects I did, the amount of technologies I've worked with, the complexity of the things I had stumbled upon during the past, all were a testament to how good I was...
Or not. The actual truth was that at the end, I always failed to pass on the proper professional image I had in my mind for myself. People would just not appreciate all that work as much as I expected them to do... At the end it was always clear that they couldn't even comprehend half of what I was worth. And I could simply not understand why... Maybe my portfolio was still small... Maybe I hadn't done much still...
But the years passed and the portfolio grew, in amazing numbers. As a CTO of a small web agency, I worked on more projects than I can recall with what I like to believe better than average results. But the problem persisted. People could not see what I saw in myself. Why? Why???
The question bothered me for a long time, up until I started employing a few developers myself. That's when then things started becoming clearer.
What makes a good employee?
At first, I paid focus mostly in past work experience and projects. After failing (and succeeding) on a few hires though, it started becoming clearer what mattered more and what not. What I noticed with great surprise was that gradually, my assessment process and focus shifted from checking the amount of projects someone had worked upon or the technologies they had previously touched upon. Instead, it was more important to understand the personal traits and the overall character profile of the person in question, until I would feel confident that they could be/or get on the awesomeness path (In my point of view of course).
Being willing to jump on a project while being scared to death, trying to understand rather than just taking orders, thinking with empathy, seeing how things fit together, showing persistence, trying to understand the whole... These were the marks of a great hire. It was about a horizontal approach to knowledge and understanding that would go outside of plain coding. Yes, the tangible result would be code, but the good result was much more than that.
But how do you discover all these traits to someone you do not really know? Someone you haven't really worked with before? A CV was so superfluous (and to be honest, everyone does their best effort to look good on one, so it further hinders the recruiter's efforts). For what things should you be looking for into someone's background, to help you unveil the things that matter?
What marks a great developer?
(Or designer, or system analyst, or whatever)
Cause an awesome dev, it's in actuality, an awesome person, which just decided to put their productive time in developing stuff!
It slowly started becoming clear to me. An awesome developer, is not an awesome coder. It's something much more, that cannot be described only by the code it produces. Cause an awesome dev, it's in actuality, an awesome person, which just decided to put their productive time in developing stuff! It is someone that pushes through a given task to not only provide a solution, but to provide a thoughtful one, after properly collaborating with his team, after understanding what is required towards making the right decisions, after making their self better to be able to provide a better result.
Wow. Great! So where do I look??
Discovering a great developer
The traditional CVs or the slightly better LinkedIn accounts that came my way, had just a glimpse of what I was looking for. Yes, someone's choices during their studies, the companies they worked, the tasks they had to work upon, helped paint a small part of the picture of their character. Because now, I was searching for a character fit. Not a knowledge fit. F*** knowledge. I can teach that to people. What I need, is an awesome person to teach it to!
I wanted to know if they could challenge themselves, to understand their ethics, their strength of character, if they can handle change, how they communicate with others, anything and everything that could help me put my faith into them, and subsequently in hiring them.
But how do you paint the picture of a character? Past work experience was not enough.I needed to understand what was underneath. So I took the stalker path. Facebook posts, Instagram posts, personal blogs, Github activity, anything that could give me a glimpse of what this person thinks like, how life crafted their character. And boy was I right!
What were texbook bad hires, turned out amazingly differently. The textbook couldn't be more wrong! A university dropout which could take any challenge you threw at him and would come out a winner, a psychologist turned out developer with minimal experience that ended up being the most team-oriented person anyone would need, an electrical enginer turned designer that would fail any typical interview, but would make wonders the moment you gave her the chance.
I found the error in the process. The traditional hiring concepts were all wrong. It's about the character, not the beauty of their CV. And I now had the proof.
It's about the character, not the beauty of their CV
It's about your character, your ethics, moments that defined you, achievements that highlight you and also your work results
And that brings us back to me. Why did I fail to show people what I was worth? Now I had the answer. Is because I was trying to do it using the flawed process I had dismissed myself prior. I was focusing on the wrong things. It's not about where you worked before. No. It's about your character, your ethics, moments that defined you, achievements that highlight you and also your work results. It's how you work with others, how you help others learn, how you contribute, not being afraid to be afraid but still do things anw.
AwesomeDevs was born! A personal profile building tool dedicated to help people like you (reading this article), to show the world how awesome you trully are. Not by focusing on where you have worked before, but by showing
- Highlights in your life (Moments): Not being afraid to challenge your self, participating in events, interacting with other people, seeing ideas, being bold
- A glimpse into your inner self (The Interview): Your ethics, how you work with others, how you help others learn, what drives you, the way you think, your goals and aspirations
- The work that excites you (Portfolio): Projects you have worked upon, the various disciplines you've come across, different aspects of the development flow you undertand(conception, analysis, design, implementation deployment, devops, support), how you contribute and what drives your work
I am an awesome dev? I certainly believe so. You can judge your self, by checking my awesome devs profile.
Are you an awesome dev?? Show the world by setting up your own awesome devs profile today!
If you are someone working in HR/Recruitment, and you somehow ended up here, I urge you to reconsider your hiring practices. My short experience as a company founder and team-leader has shown me that great people are hidden among us, not knowing most of the times how to show themselves, and it's our responsibility (and obviously to our benefit) to unearth them. So stop using your anachronistic methods and dig deeper, to what makes someone trully a worthy individual.
If on the other hand you are someone that trully feels awesome, and you would like to point out any suggestions on how awesome devs could help you show this better to the world, please do get in touch, I would hyped to discuss this with you!
And considering this is a personal blog and I can write whatever I like, let's not forget:
Thanks for listening