In a past blog post we asked the question, “Do you know how to spot an IT superstar?” The areas we focused on in that post, when trying to identify top tech talent, were longevity of assignments, relevant industry experience, strong technical screening results, and the possession of degrees and certifications, among others. While that post focused on the tangible, today we’ll be focusing more on the abstract. More specifically, we’ll be taking a look at the traits that make for a good tech hire.
As an IT staffing firm that’s been in business for nearly 25 years, we’ve seen all sorts of technology professionals. From Oracle DBA’s and Software Engineers to Project Managers and SAS Programmers. As you might assume, these positions require very different skill sets. Even with that being true, however, there are still underlying traits we feel hiring managers should be cognizant of, regardless of opportunity, when trying to make a good tech hire. The following are some examples of those traits.
Practical Experience – Degrees and certifications are great. For one, they show a candidate has taken the time and put forth the effort to gain additional knowledge in their chosen field. What they don’t show, however, is the ability to handle and solve real world problems. That’s why candidates who’ve shown that they have practical experience rise to the top. It shows the candidate actually knows what they’re doing, instead of knowing what to do in theory.
To draw a comparison using sports, let’s look at the 2011 version of the Philadelphia Eagles – the self-described “Dream Team.” They called themselves this because their roster was filled with household names (degrees/certifications) signed through free agency. The problem, though, was that none of them had actually ever played together or worked in unison (for this analogy, we’ll say that’s real world experience). While on paper they looked great, and seemed a force to be reckoned with, in reality they were subpar – finishing the season with a very mediocre record of 8-8.
While this analogy may not be perfect, it shows that theory (on paper) doesn’t always translate to success.
Adaptability – This is huge. While the technology may remain the same, or at least is very similar, all IT departments operate in different ways. As an example, let’s take a look at software development methodologies. For those unfamiliar, software development methodologies are designed to organize the work of software development, with the two most popular methodologies being Waterfall and Agile. Both of these are usable, mature methodologies but they come with key differences. With a Waterfall methodology, you’re using a more traditional, linear approach. The Agile methodology, however, is an iterative, team-based approach that uses a specific type of Rapid Application Development. While both can be used to achieve the same outcome, their processes are completely different.
That’s why when you’re looking to make a good tech hire, you’ll want someone who is adaptable. Someone who can change their approach based on different environments (Waterfall vs Agile). But you’ll also want to ask yourself the following questions: Are they able to take direction? Do they know their role? Are they able to unlearn (again, Waterfall vs Agile). True tech pros are able to adapt their approach.
Passion – Those who love what they do are more likely to succeed. They’re also more likely to go above and beyond to solve a problem, or complete a task, to make sure a project can be delivered on time and under budget. That’s why when looking to make a tech hire, managers should seek out those technology professionals who exude that passion. Whether it comes in the form of advanced degrees and certifications, hobbies that reflect their professional experience, volunteering to take on additional assignments, or any number of other things. Those with passion have clarity and purpose in what they do.
So whether you’re looking to make a new hire or are just assessing your current team, the preceding traits are what we’ve found to be great indicators of what makes up a truly great tech hire. We know we may have missed some, though, so what are other traits that can make for a good tech hire?