What Recruiters Look for in a Dev Candidate

Tracy Sestili
May. 25, 2016 by Tracy Sestili

Every recruiter has a different point of view on what they look for in a dev candidate. There’s no magic formula for the best type of résumé or application. However, there are some key things that are consistent among many recruiters. Read below to see how you stack up.

Recruiter for Dev Candidate

Work Experience

All recruiters review a candidate’s LinkedIn profile or the attached résumé. They look at the most recent position, the company and the duration of the role. Then they start to try and figure out what it was that you did in the position, how large was the team and how did you and/or your team fit into the overall organizational structure.

The good news is that all of these items can be updated in your LinkedIn profile by thoughtfully filling out your summary, making sure the job title is accurate and filling out a brief description of your job responsibilities and why your projects were essential to the company.

“Computing is based upon an engineer’s ability to constantly learn and apply that knowledge, something I admire greatly about the industry. My recommendation is that hiring manager should look for “smart and get things done,” but also consider “will and able to learn, and apply knowledge.” ~ Leann Pereira, tech recruiter

However, some recruiters have a system and are interested in the number of years of work experience that you have in a particular area. For example:

“When I first look at a resume, I skip over all the summary stuff, skills & aptitudes, etc. I go right to the list of their work experience and review the last 5-10 years of their experience. For each position, I attempt to assign them a STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result). For example, if I am looking for a Senior Web Developer for a Fortune 500 company who has been working with the Java stack, I will give a STAR if the resume shows an engineer who is used to working in a full-team environment, as a software engineer, using the Java stack on a project that seems to have progressed smoothly. If I can assign STARs for 3-5 or 5-7 years of the candidate’s experience – we have a winner.” ~ Jerry Brown, overactdev.com

Education

Depending on the hiring manager, education is either non-essential or can be a key factor. Some managers want a Computer Science (CS) degree from a recognizable school. However, other hiring managers believe that your code should speak for itself and since the majority of developers are self-taught and may or may not have CS degree, this becomes less of a key factor.

“In my eyes formal education shouldn’t be a requirement when it comes to hiring engineers or developers. We’re lucky enough to live in a world where ‘education’ and gaining knowledge is easily accessible for everyone and I’m not talking about traditional schools but rather coding bootcamps, online courses, meet-ups, conferences, webinars etc. Going to one of the best engineering schools in the country is not going to help you if you lack passion and that’s what it comes down to in the end. We’re all looking to hire people that are passionate and excited about what they do so don’t underestimate the power of self taught engineers.” ~ Julia Sievert, recruiter at PopSugar

Grammar

Grammar and formatting are also something developers tend to neglect. Recruiters and hiring managers can tell how much time and effort you’ve spent working on your application. If you haven’t spent any due diligence working on such things then it speaks to your work ethic and what you would be like in the role itself (for example, detail oriented, conscientious, sloppy, etc.).

 

Online Footprint

Most recruiters I spoke to said they most definitely will do a scan of a dev candidate’s social media presence. However, most recruiters agree that in many cases this can actually help enhance a candidate’s online profile when they include links to their work or contributions on GitHub, blogs, forums and other places on the internet. So be sure to include those links in your LinkedIn profile and in your online résumé.

“A good engineer doesn’t get bored easily! 🙂 I check whether they have spoken about anything interesting on engineering excellence or operations excellence (code reviews, scrums, etc.).” ~ Ranbir Mahapatra, engineering recruiter at Amazon

Employment Gaps

Employment gaps aren’t as big of a deal as you may think. Most recruiters are just looking for a reasonable, honest explanation in the employment gap. As long as you can reasonably explain it (took time off to raise kids, did some consulting or tried your hand at a start-up, for example), it’s perfectly acceptable. Plus, if you have a gap, try to use the time to work on personal or industry related projects and showcase that in your online profiles.

Summary

Most recruiters scan through a dev candidate’s résumé in less than two minutes. Make things easy for them to find but don’t over complicate it. Be transparent and highlight your accomplishments. It’s the one time you get to brag and it’s not seen as boastful.  In the end, most recruiters are looking for you to just be your authentic self.

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