So You Want To Be A Developer?

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Dave Hoover writes here about the current lack of Ruby developers available in Chicago. A quick skim through the comments and we can see people chiming in from other cities voicing the same concern. I can definitely relate but here in London it seems there are a lack of good, keen developers across all languages. At my last two companies (Java and Ruby) hiring good people was a major ongoing issue that was always in the back of our minds. The hiring process is not only a major time sync but very depressing when it gets drawn out for months on end.

Here are some of the major stumbling blocks our (very few) candidates have run into. If you are hiring this is a good list of things to look out for and if you are job hunting you need to get this issues nailed down.

Concise Logical CV\Resumé

CVs that don’t make sense, are poorly written or are just too long usually get discarded. If you haven’t spent the time writing a concise, well thought out resumé tailored for the job you are applying for you don’t stand much of a chance. Write it, rewrite it, cut it down and use the god damn spell checker. No Word DOCs - only send PDFs or URLs.

Social Skills

This is often overlooked. In large companies many developers can be easily hide away in their cubicles and just get on with coding without talking to anyone for days. In smaller companies this is not the case and you will need to be prepared for it. Having clear, reasonable, democratic discussions about architecture and code is something we do everyday and you will not get hired if there is the slightest chance that flow could be disrupted.

The key thing here is to not be too opinionated, do not force your beliefs on others and allow the team to reach agreements naturally. You will not win every argument but it doesn’t matter if you can form a consensus.

Keen Interest

If you interview with me and you say you don’t care if you work in PHP or Ruby then it’s probably over at that point. Then again if you consider them both exciting languages with great communities and lots happening we can talk further. It’s not about what area you find the most interesting, it’s a question of you engaging and seeking out new technologies and techniques. Always have side projects, the best developers do and I find it odd when people don’t. Being active outside of work is a sign of passion.

Computing Background

This is not a deal breaker but if you do not have a Computer Science degree (or equivalent) you will need to make up for it. That’s either through experience or at more junior levels evidence of existing projects and a clear grasp of the fundamentals. Write code and ship it.

The Silver Lining

Although we are having problems hiring this does present a major opportunity for young developers or people seeking a career change. Learn programming, get really good and deploy some applications. Also if you are looking for a good Ruby programming role in London please get in touch with me.

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