On recruiting in computer programming

When looking for some specific technical positions, finding the right candidate can become a nightmare. You want someone who can code right, of course. You also want someone with decent knowledge. Conversely, if you’re looking for a job, you have probably noticed it’s quite difficult to convey all the depth and breadth of your knowledge in a classic resume.

Enter the Internet era: there’s plenty way to show off your skills & knowledge there. Here’s the idea: start a blog, answer questions on stackoverflow, become influent on twitter ; if you write open source code, you can show your Github account. Then give all that information to recruiters. If you’re the recruiter, ask the candidates to show you their Github account.

James Coglan wrote an interesting blog post on why using Github as a Resume is not a good idea. What he says is you will exclude people that may be competent programmers, but simply don’t have their code on Github :

we’re creating a filter that means only people with copious leisure time and no other hobbies or commitments will end up in these jobs. People have plenty of valid reasons not to spend their spare time on their job, and certainly most of the great programmers I’ve worked with aren’t big-time GitHubbers.

Sure. Yet, hiring is difficult because one wants to see the candidate’s coding abilities. Coglan has some good advice there too:

Fine, but how are we supposed to hire people?

The hard way. Sorry everyone, but it’s the best we’ve got. People’s problem-solving ability and reasoning can’t be surmised from reading the end result of those processes, you have to talk to them. … If you want to choose wisely, and fairly, stop demanding free work from people.

Ironically, a few days after reading this, I saw a link to resume.github.io on Twitter. A lot of people were enthusiastically tweeting and linking to it. Obviously there exists a debate about about how to do hiring properly for computer programming positions.

In the same vein: looking at stackoverflow points. Personnally, I use SO a lot, and often find my answers there. I wish I’d have the time to answer more of them, but often answering a question needs quite a bit of digging, so I just can’t give more than a few hints.

Anyway, when recruiting, I’m sticking to the “hard way”… test people. For code, that’s point 11 in the Joel Test, by the way.