Some employers and recruitment agencies seem to put more emphasis on quantity (i.e. number of years of experience) than quality (i.e. caliber of the candidate). Some candidates are more pro-active and passionate about their achievements, skills and widening their horizons whilst the others get into a comfort zone performing repetitive tasks.
So the point I am trying to make is that the recruitment process (at least the initial screening) should be qualitative not quantitative. For example:
- Initial assessment should be via phone screening, written tests with coding, and aptitude test of all the applicants. Many good companies do this.
- Followed by face to face technical & culture fit interview of the short-listed candidates. Written code can be reviewed in addition to other technical interview questions.
- Prevents resume falsifying: Candidates won’t be tempted to lie or exaggerate in their CVs.
- Quality of the experience as opposed to quantity: Employers can potentially identify who has 4 year experience and who has 1 year experience repeated 4 times in the earlier stage of the interviewing process.
- Cut out the marketing ability: High caliber candidates won’t be penalized for lacking marketing skills i.e. failing to write effective CV.
- Company size or caliber does not matter CVs & interview performance can be assessed based on real “know how” & achievements, and NOT based on the size or caliber of the past organizations (e.g. large multi-national) you had worked for . It shouldn’t matter, which company you worked for but what matters is what you did there and your achievements.
For example: My first Java/J2EE role was in a large financial institution (i.e. a stock exchange) where I was screened via a technical test, a technical interview and a HR interview. The type of project I worked on and skills I gained there was more like repeating 1 month 6 times. So I decided to move on after 6-7 months (lucky me it was the Internet boom time). I moved on to a small software development house where I was fortunate enough to work with some of the top-notch Java/JEE developers & architects. It was a mission-critical project for a telecom client and was like acquiring 2 years worth of skills & experience in 6-8 months. This assignment not only boosted my career prospects but also my confidence. But when I applied for my future jobs, my experience with the large finance company (i.e. a stock exchange) stood out to my prospective employers & recruitment agencies. That is when I decided to change my CV to more skills & achievements driven.
- Peaking at the right time: Some employers and recruitment agencies put more emphasis on your past academic (e.g. grades in your degree, high school etc) achievements, which is not a bad thing but I have worked with talented Java/JEE professionals who peaked at the right time in their careers. These are the candidates who get through their schooling and degree as an average student and develop a passion for their chosen career. These candidates will be pro-active, hard-working, studious and take pride in their achievements.
Finally, in my opinion all come down to whether employers want to hire the top-notch Java/JEE professional or someone who can just do the job. This can make a big difference to the quality of the code written, ability to meet deadlines and achieving the project goals. For example there are companies like “ThoughtWorks” who take recruitment process very seriously to hire the top-notch Java/JEE developers.
- Acquire the sought-after skills through outside work activities like self-taught projects, open source contribution, and voluntary work.
- Get a good handle on the 16 key areas of software development. If you rely only in your on the job experience alone, it will take time to master these key areas. The best approach is to proactively learn these key areas via good books and blogs and apply them at work or by starting a self-taught project/contributing to opensource projects/helping a not for profit organization.
- Learn to market your skills, achievements and experience that you had acquired through on the job and outside work by blogging and adding them to your CV. You can learn more about the importance of personal branding.
- Prepare for your job interviews. Brush-up/learn/familiarize yourself with Java/JEE fundamentals and FAQs. Don’t be afraid of the stringent interview process. The more thorough the interview process, the better opportunity you have to work with some of the best developers in the industry. The job interviews are not just a technical contests to see who gets the most questions right. It is all about judging your technical skills, experience, soft skills, attitude, and cultural fit.