A 2014 IDC study revealed that there were 18.5 million developers worldwide, with about 11 million considered professionals and 7.5 million calling themselves hobbyists. Now, three years later, there are millions more. Evans Data Corporation pegged 2017’s figure at 21 million, though many speculate that the actual number could be much larger. What’s more, there are over 250 programming languages, with new languages being developed on a continual basis.
This means you’re faced with lots of choices millions of developers, dozens of programming languages and countless developer specialties. And this says nothing of soft skills, which play a major role when building a development team. A brief examination of the numbers makes it abundantly clear that you need to carefully evaluate a developer’s skills in order to ensure you’ve found the right person for your project.
The top development teams tend to have a broad collective skill set, with a high degree of redundancy or overlap among individual skill sets. While many focus on technical skills, it’s also important to place great emphasis on soft skills, such as leadership tendencies and strong collaborative capabilities.
If you’re a hiring manager or team leader who’s tasked with assembling the ideal development team, you must have an accurate and effective developer skill assessment strategy. So where do you begin?
Performing a Soft Skill Assessment
Assessing soft skills is a bit more subjective than the evaluation process for technical skills, which tend to be far more black and white. This makes soft skill evaluations a bit more challenging in some ways, especially when you consider that soft skills are difficult to evaluate.
Soft skill assessment should examine a number of areas, including the following:
- Team player skills in a large group and small group setting;
- Leadership and self-motivation capabilities;
- Comfort level when working independently;
- Organizational skills;
- Problem solving and analytical capabilities;
- Adaptability and flexibility;
- Conflict resolution skills; and
- Communication skills (online, over the phone and in person).
There’s no simple, straightforward test for soft skills and often, the most effective evaluations are performed over an extended period of time. For this reason, peer reviews and recommendations from former employers can offer lots of useful insight into an individual’s soft skills. Others may opt to simply ask the candidate about their strengths and weaknesses.
As a hiring manager or team leader, the objective is to ensure that your group has a diverse set of soft skill strengths and weaknesses. For instance, if you pair a group of strong leaders with under-developed conflict resolution skills, then you’re apt to see clashes. Team members should possess skill sets that are complementary of each other, with teammates counterbalancing each others’ strengths and weaknesses.
Performing a Developer Skill Assessment for Technical Capabilities
Evaluating an individual’s tech skills can be rather complex, as most hiring managers and recruiters have found that traditional programming tests are very limited in terms of their usefulness. And for developers who work as part of a large agile development team, work samples may be hard to come by. That’s because a single person may not be able to say they’re solely responsible for a particular element or aspect of the project.
So how do you perform a tech skill assessment for developers? Well, it can be beneficial to begin by asking the talent about their skills and proficiencies in various programming languages. This provides you with a good starting point. It can be beneficial to create a standardized form, with a list of skills and programming languages, with tick boxes that allow the individual to rank their skill level for each line item.
From there, it’s most effective to assign test projects which allow the candidate to demonstrate their skills in a tangible, easy-to-evaluate manner. It’s generally best to give all candidates the same project or assignment so as to make the evaluation process more uniform (and subsequently, a bit easier.)
Ideally, you should have a development team leader or other tech-savvy expert evaluating developers, as a typical recruiter or hiring manager will lack the insight required to perform an effective assessment. This is one area where you can benefit from working with an IT staffing firm such as iTech, since our team specializes in sourcing and placing developers and other tech talent with companies across the nation.
At iTech, we know how to assess talent. We can form a new team or supplement an existing team with individuals who are apt to be complementary. And you won’t need to divert valuable resources away from current projects (as is commonly required, since you need someone with programming expertise to effectively evaluate a developer.) We are available to provide consulting and staffing services for clients who are in search of the ideal team of developers. We make sure the team is well-suited to your unique project and its specs. And with our temporary staffing services, there’s no long-term commitment, which is ideal for companies that require help on a one-time or periodic basis. We invite you to contact iTech today to find IT staff for your next project.