Tomasz Winter, co-founder of Devskiller, works with the biggest IT companies in the world to streamline their process of recruiting tech talents.
We recently asked for his insight on how developers can prepare for IT job searches. Here’s what he shared:
Can you tell us about the mission behind Devskiller?
Devskiller’s mission is a simple one. We want to make recruiting IT talent easier.
Sure, we’re not the only ones, but we pride ourselves on being different in that we focus on more than just testing the ability of a developer to code – we go in-depth, testing more than just programming languages, but also the knowledge of frameworks, libraries, other dependencies, and the overall ability of the candidate to solve a problem – something you might expect a hired developer to be doing on a daily basis.
We don’t just test developers, we simulate the first day at work experience, making it easier for the hiring manager to see what they are getting while efficiently using the developer’s time to assess their true talents.
In just a few words: We verify programmers’ skills to find the true problem solvers.
What are some of the challenges facing IT companies for recruiting tech talent?
There’s a craze right now for good IT talent and a true shortage. While companies that occasionally need programming might be expected to pay a hefty fee for some of these services, there still is plenty of developers that will complete such a task.
But IT companies in particular, or companies that have a need in investing in a permanent IT department usually need seniors – and they are really hard to recruit. It’s a totally candidate-driven market.
Another scarce resource, perhaps not exclusive to IT but definitely in great shortage in the field, is Time.
Both recruiters and developers see it as a valuable resource. To put it simply, recruiters want to fill these positions fast as keeping them vacant costs companies the most. They want to make sure that they hire quality too, as bad hires cost even more. But then comes the time again: they aren’t skilled enough to test developers themselves, and the developers within the company are valuing their own time too much to spend it on a large number of potential candidates. Thus, we offer our great testing tool to cut the process short and save everyone’s most precious resource – time.
But check this out for a twist: this market is so candidate driven, that good developers, especially seniors, can actually afford not to waste their time on strenuous assessment processes. That’s why our tool is designed to test actual ability, and not book knowledge and do it simply and fast with great results.
Beyond having a grasp on a certain programming language, what should those looking for jobs in tech do to make themselves stand out to recruiters?
It might seem strange to some people in other industries, where there is a lot of talk about positioning and presentation. My advice to those looking for a job in IT would be to spend as much time working on their skill. Code. Read about coding. Code some more. Take a free trial on our platform to test yourself, there will even be people to assist you in using the platform to get the most out of it, and you don’t have to worry about getting a subscription. We just want developers to use our tool and we always appreciate the feedback.
What are the most common mistakes you see IT candidates making in their job searches? What should they be doing differently?
We hear a lot about mistakes in IT as they are usually very costly and there is less and less room for error if you want to remain competitive. But what we can say about developers themselves is that juniors often go for the jobs they actually aren’t skilled enough to get. Programming isn’t rocket-science, but it isn’t playing with playdoh either. Work at your skill whenever you can devs! There are a ton of tools and databases online like: StackOverflow and Github that serve to assist learning developers.
What tech skills are most in demand right now? What are recruiters looking for right now?
There is no one specific answer to that question. What we see by looking at the market of recruiting tech talent is that companies focus on finding candidates with specific skills rather than a broad knowledge of the programming language. Being specialized in a certain field is the value that they are after. Knowing certain frameworks or libraries inside-out or being a specialist in a certain field defines a true problem solver that can resolve tasks that 10 different programmers couldn’t manage with.
How can tech candidates ensure that they have a strong grasp on in-demand skills?
With only a few minutes to spare, any developer can take a look at a job board, a recruitment website or an IT forum to see what people are looking for. It takes a while to brush up on those skills but if they are out hunting for a better job, more cash or just to improve themselves it’s best to go through programming tasks to see how they fare against an actual problem-solving a task.
What should job candidates do to prepare for the types of skills assessments you offer at devskiller.com?
The tests are designed to require as little preparation as possible. The specifics are related to the matter that is tested, but the gist of it is that we do our best to test a developer the way their job would test them on the first day at work.
But the general advice is applicable: get a good night’s sleep, have a cup of gourmet coffee and some dark chocolate for concentration – just like we do each day at the office.
What advice can you offer IT professionals on approaching salary negotiations?
This is a hard one, and depends on many factors, and the sheer context behind the job.
I’d rather answer this question by tackling the issue on the other end of the equation. When hiring, what is the right way to go about paying the talent you hire?
I personally look for potential. When hiring something as rare as a skilled developer it’s good to try and evaluate whether they have a broader knowledge of languages that they might not work with daily but could potentially improve, for example. It’s good to hire someone who can stay within the company and grow together with it and over time specialize in one field and hone it to perfection. And that is something worth paying for, even if the delivery isn’t optimum in the beginning.
What news or headlines are you following in IT recruiting today? Why do they interest you?
Have you seen my Twitter follows? I go left and right to try and collect the information I see as valuable. Quora is a great place but so are the many general and specialty internet portals that give to the HR community.
At Devskiller, we have a lot of tacit knowledge that we are trying to put into words, video clips and probably a podcast soon to help generate supportive content for the HR and IT crowd. They are actually on the same page of finding the best fit for both company and developer, but seem to sometimes speak a different language. Besides the testing tool we offer, we also want to offer content to support a better understanding between programming and recruiting. So I keep my ear to the ground and follow websites like yours to find the right questions, so that I might give a shot at answering them and give some value that way.
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