Software speciality is a major force in the job market. Unfortunately the field is strongly stereotyped. It is commonly believed that software engineers are introverts that work silently in the corner – somewhat typical nerds 🤓.
#ILookLikeAnEngineer was called into life to stop this appearance-based bias. Now let’s investigate the performance-based tilt.
It is commonly believed that great knowledge of tech skills is all you need to be a successful software developer. However, the HR & recruitment experts from People Link have pointed out an interesting shift 👀 in the IT recruitment field.
Currently, personality is getting more weight in taking a decision whom to hire as an engineer.
We discussed with Danas Venclovas, head of IT recruitment at People Link, how the software engineers’ personality has become the primary focus during the recruitment process.
Software engineering speciality has become a very broad field of study. Years ago a solo task is now an interaction between many stakeholders: designers, users, product owners, etc. How has that changed the profile of a software engineer?
That’s right, stakeholders are more and more involved in contributing to tasks meaning more collaboration is needed. If we look back 3-4 years, most of the companies tried to fill roles with people handling very specific skill set (i.e. software engineer with 3 years of .NET 4.x, or ASP.NET and even in some specific business domain experience) and that was complete standart in the market.
Currently, in recruitment we see a huge shift to what is required to fulfil tasks – companies now appreciate technical eclecticism. Meaning we are not looking for a PHP Symfony specialist or Java engineer, companies are looking for a Software Engineer who would feel comfortable with a combination of programming languages and would be able to choose different tools for different problems (i.e. use Node.JS on one microservice and Python for the other, while working on the same platform).
Another thing that changed over the past few years is the view on engineer’s personality. Companies used to focus on a specific skill whilst turning a blind eye on what they are as a person. Currently, personality is getting more weight in taking a decision whom to hire as an engineer.
As every company is using a different technical stack and in almost every case when a person joins the team, they have to adapt to the company’s stack and learn new things, Hiring Managers tend to take in consideration their communication, collaboration skills, ability to learn, flexibility, agility, etc.
Study suggests that although interests and personality types may play a role in the selection of a career, they may not predict success in that area. Would you agree with this? Do you see any prominent characteristics among software developers that secure a higher rate of success?
I really think that personality influences the selection of the career path – for example, in our recruitment we use a Tripod assessment center that assesses personality based on the Big 5 personality theory. Combined with mental and/or spatial ability tests can give us a very good indication on how a person will perform in a new role, will they adapt quickly and what might hinder their success.
Overall, higher scores in Arithmetical and Spatial abilities is a good predictor of one’s opportunities to have a good career in the IT industry. Hence if one is considering to transition to IT, I would very much advise them to take such a test- it would be a very useful guideline for them.
Developers like any other people share a very wide range of interests and hobbies – sports, hardware, gaming, cooking, you name it. None of these interests can predict developers’ ability to succeed at work. During my career I interviewed a lot of diverse people who in no way support the stereotypes of developers. I’ve seen very communicative, extroverted people enjoying coding all day and complete introverts who successfully manage teams and develop businesses.
But there is one factor which can definitely describe a person’s success in IT, actually in any field – and it’s a very simple thing – constant learning and finding ways to challenge oneself. Best candidates and leaders of the market always say the same – the more I’ve learned along the way, the more I still don’t know. And as IT is a very fast paced industry with constantly developing technologies, tools, and frameworks, one must keep up with all of it if you want to stay in the game.
As an expert in recruitment, you have probably done numerous successful hirings. What are the biggest stumbling blocks that people make during an interview or in the applying process?
There are numerous ways one can fail in interviews or any other stage of the recruitment process. I could tell you stories for hours about candidates who come to a video interview without wearing a T-shirt, lights up a cigarette while being interviewed, curses, appears late by 30-40 mins or forgets to show up at all. So it’s not easy to surprise me anymore 😀
The interesting thing is that these stories are much more common in the IT industry than any others. It’s hard to tell why.
I think the biggest mistakes that people make during an interview is coming in without any preparation – not having taken a look at the company or position they’ll be interviewed for. I had cases when a person shows up on a video interview and doesn’t remember what company we will be talking to, and in most cases this strongly indicates that candidates have little motivation to change jobs and are just “window shopping”. In most cases, talking with recruiters means one of the following: either you improve your salary and benefits by going to a better position/company or you increase your salary in the current company by going to your boss and saying – company X is headhunting me. So why not make some effort and show your best qualities.
At People Link we do a lot of surveys on the Lithuanian labour market and a few years back we were looking into what personal qualities employers look for in their employees. And the results showed that most desired qualities are responsibility, efficiency, independency, diligence and proactivity. So try to show these qualities during interviews with companies in addition to your technical skills and you will earn much more than you’ll lose: you’ll improve your working conditions, your salary, or at least – your reputation that in the long run might positively improve your working conditions and/or salary.
Give some hints to students or those who are considering a career change. Where in the IT sector do you see that companies’ demand is high, but the potential amount of talent is low?
In all the areas in the IT market demand is higher than supply. Choosing almost any field in IT to study has a tremendous potential. Of course, you should consider studying modern technologies like Golang, Node.JS, React.JS, Python, since the demand of these skills in the market are higher than other technologies but if you choose PHP, Java or .NET as your main technology, you will still have plenty of opportunities in the market. One of the “not such a good” choices would be going for Mainframe or other legacy technologies.
But, as I mentioned before, not only your technology stack is important, think of ways how to improve and show your personal qualities. And not only that but also invest some time into data literacy. If you’re thinking about IT, huge chances are that you’ll be working with data, algorithms and databases, unless you go for Front-end and Design. In this case you’ll have less data 🙂
If a company is struggling to find talent to join their team, how can People Link help in these situations?
At People Link we provide a number of services to the companies but the main is the full recruitment process. But I always say that companies we work with benefit the most from the partnership we have, since we help not only with finding and assessing candidates but we work with companies to make the best Employer Value proposition, help with recruitment process and strategy, we consult companies on the market trends, salaries and challenges, efficiency and effectiveness of their HR processes, etc. We have experience building teams for start-ups from scratch, helping market leaders to find and hire the right people and we cover many more functions from consulting to organizational research.
What are your predictions for the future? How will the IT sector recruitment trends change? What struggles/changes we have to be ready for?
The main struggle that recruitment will face is less time for filling the role. Two years ago it was completely normal for recruitment to take 3-4 weeks, year ago it was 2-3 weeks. Now if a candidate doesn’t have an answer whether he or she gets the offer or not in 2 weeks, you can practically forget about them – they’ve forgotten about you and lost their interest in the role. From the candidates point of view it’s completely fair to ask for a faster process since nobody wants to go through 1 month of recruitment and find out that the company chose someone else. It’s even worse when candidates don’t get any feedback at all.
Another thing that’s not a future trend but todays’ reality – recruiters need to work alongside hiring managers in order to recruit and engage the best people in the market. The age where recruitment agencies were just service providers is over and now every head-hunter needs to be as much as possible included in the recruitment process because only by having all the information we can help companies and candidates and actually be partners in dealing with market’s challenges.
And for the future in IT predictions, I really feel that Data literacy will become more important as everything is moving towards Big data, Data Science, AI and we all, doesn’t matter if you are a developer, a customer support, or HR Generalist, everyone will have to work with data and its analysis. Another trend – technical eclecticism – problems in the IT field evolve and become harder to solve but by sticking to one or two technologies as your technical stack means that soon you’ll be not competitive in the market. This means that, again, keep learning new things, keep up-to-date with new trends and invest time in learning.
Let’s summarise with 5 main takeaways:
💡 Currently, companies appreciate technical eclecticism – the ability of combining things from many different areas or systems. Constant improvement and finding ways to challenge oneself is the key.
💡 Danas has interviewed a lot of diverse people during his recruitment career and these people, in no way, support the stereotypes of developers.
💡 The recruitment process has become faster and faster. Two years ago it was completely normal for recruitment to take 3-4 weeks, year ago it was 2-3 weeks. Now if a candidate doesn’t have an answer whether he or she gets the offer or not in 2 weeks, you can practically forget about them.
💡 According to People Link survey results, the most desired and valued qualities are responsibility, efficiency, independency, diligence and proactivity.
💡 Not only your technology stack is important, but think of ways how to improve and show your personal qualities.
People Link is constantly helping to connect the right talent to relevant companies:
- 🐍 Python Developer 🐍
- Technical Copywriter
- Export Manager
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