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You Can Tell A Lot About A Developer By What They're Like

Forgive me for adapting an old Harry Hill joke. But there’s a universe of truth in it.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed an increasing reliance on tertiary signifiers when employers evaluate software developers. While we poo-poo’d certifications as meaningless, we were busy falling into a very similar trap ourselves.

It’s true that when a developer has a blog, and regularly attends dev events and participates in dev communities, and contributes to open source projects and shares their code on sites like GitHub – which has miraculously transformed itself from a hubris-inspired version control platform into a social network for programmers (with all the accompanying social problems that can happen when people congregate in spaces real and virtual) – this can be an indication of "passion" and "commitment" to their craft. And passion and commitment can be an indication that they put a lot of time into learning their craft. Which can lead to them being better software developers.

Until…

…it becomes mandatory that you do these things, because you’ve heard that employers are looking for this now.

And then what you get is the same thing you get when people hear that a certain certification can get them a better-paid gig, and then – before you can say "sprint" – the market’s flooded with people who are just making sure they tick that box.

GitHub accounts and blogs and speaker credentials and book credits aren’t the gold standard they used to be as a result. An so, as t’was ever thus, we have to go back to looking at their code and looking at the candidate themselves and judging them on what kind of software developer they are.

There are a lot of great developers who haven’t put themselves out there like you and I might have. They hide their light under a bushel, and this is why I’m trying these days to look beyond the tertiary signifiers, afraid that I might miss some real hidden gems just because they’re not "playing the game".

Posted 25 minutes, 5 seconds ago on April 15, 2016

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