Let me start by posing a question to all of you other groups looking for PHP developers right now – should we just settle?
Sure, I’d love for that perfect candidate to come walking through the door, shiny resume in had that fits close to what we need (no, I’m not naive enough to think they’ll be perfect). We could sit there in the interview and he or she could give all the right answers in all the right places. The choice would be easy and, with a few shaking of hands, the deal would be sealed.
If that’s your impression of hiring a developer, you’re in for a serious kick in the shins by the software development industry. Right now (and it seems especially right now) finding good developers is even harder than the needle in the haystack trick. I’d go so far as to say that, for the parameters that most companies can afford, there’s almost no good, skilled developers out there – the real problem there being that pesky S-word.
If you’re not at all concerned about code quality or serious development, by all means hire the next interviewee that walks through your door. Don’t check his criteria, don’t look at his experience and by no means ask him any questions about how many years he’s been developing PHP. Now, a skilled developer, on the other hand, is something that should be sought after and held onto as long as possible. They’re the ones that will think about the structure of the code they’re writing and continuously look for ways to improve the application. As I explained it to a coworker of mine:
“You want a developer, not a hobbyist.”
I’m not saying that kids fresh out of school (or whatever) are to be discounted because they don’t have much development experience. I will say to be careful with them, though. As anyone that’s worked in development can tell you, there’s just that “something” you can see in the eyes of a developer when they talk about the technology they work with.
So, back to my dilemma – how to find a good developer in a wasteland of good talent. After a few interviews with widely varying candidates, I’ve been getting a bit more discouraged, but I just have to keep reminding myself of a few things:
- Don’t be too picky (except on the important stuff)
- No matter what the resume makes you think, don’t assume
- Remember your roots, assess them based on theirs
- Don’t settle.
Yes, I know I’m sort of answering my own question, but that doesn’t stop me from asking it. You go through enough applicants and your have to start wondering…