Find a Programmer: Why Skills Matter More Than Formal Training

Degrees and training might be top priorities for other positions. But when you need to find a programmer, your focus should always be on their skills.


When it comes to finding quality employees, you focus on certain characteristics. In the case of computer programmers, you’ll want the right candidate to have a Bachelor’s degree. (Especially at a national average of almost $40 per hour.)

But while degrees and training might be top priorities for certain positions, it shouldn’t be the case with programmers. To find a programmer that’s right for your company, the focus should always be on their skills.

Here’s why skills matter more than training when it comes to programmers.

Skills > Training

Training can mean a lot of different things. The biggest differentiator is that the person doesn’t always retain the training. Formal education, online courses, or any other kind of training can help budding programmers improve, but by how much?

Interestingly enough, skills are only developed through training. So it would make sense that the more training a programmer has, the more skills they acquire. This, sadly, is not always the case.

The credentials potential programmer candidates put on their resume are lying to you. They aren’t doing it intentionally, because resumes can only go so far. It paints an inaccurate picture.

You could have two separate programmers. One has gotten a Masters in computer programming and has gone to many seminars, yet he lacks the abilities to code quickly or communicate with others in the office. The other has a Bachelor’s, minimal online training, but can be a team player and knows multiple types of code.

Who would you hire? Based on the resume, you’d select the wrong programmer.

Technical Skills vs. Soft Skills

To find a programmer, you first need to know of valuable skills they could have.

There are two primary skills a person can have: Technical and Soft.

Technical skills refer to the programmer’s professional abilities. What can they do for your business, specifically as a programmer? These skills can be obtained from formal education, training, work experience, internships, online classes, and other ways of learning.

Once on the resume, technical skills highlight the programmer’s expertise. If the “education” section is filled with prestigious places and accolades, but the “skills” section is blank or simply “knows how to code,” that’s a red flag. You want to hire a programmer with multiple technical skills.

The resume should also include a programmer’s skills that they’re currently working on. That way, you can get a full picture of how much this programmer can bring to your company.

Soft skills, on the other hand, are characteristics that determine what kind of team member this programmer would be. How will working with this programmer look and feel like? These types of skills include teamwork, communication, leadership, problem-solving, and time management.

While not always on the resume, soft skills are vital to developing company culture. The more soft skills a person has obtained through life experience, the better employee they will be. What a programmer can do is important, but how they do it matters even more.

How to Find a Programmer Based on Skills

With both technical and soft skills meaning so much in a candidate, how can you possibly find a programmer that’s right? Here are four easy steps to minimizing your list of candidates to the perfect choices:

1. Ask Other Programmers

First, know what you want out of a programmer in technical skills. If you have programmer friends or know of successful people in the industry, pick their brains. What do they look for in an ideal programmer?

Ask them what type of questions you should use in initial interviews. Having a good idea of what to expect from programmers as people will also benefit from your first round of questioning. Get your mentality wrapped around the world of coding and computers before sitting down with any candidate.

2. Conduct Smart Interviews

Equipped with your crucial questions, conduct interviews with both technical and soft skills in mind. Your conversations with other programmers should give you enough insight to see which technical abilities you’ll need for your business. But how do people stack up to your soft skill requirements?

You can ask them about their background and training for sure, but judge them based on what they’ve gleaned from that training. The training is a means to an end; the end is an arsenal of technical skills.

Then, give them hypothetical scenarios in the workplace. Their answers will determine what soft skills they have at the ready. How they interact and work is imperative to your day-to-day business.

3. Decide Second Interviews Based on Skills

Once you have conducted the first round, list out the skills of each programmer. Soft and technical should have their own colors. Highlight or star unique qualities certain candidates showed in their first interview.

Create a shortlist of candidates that showcased the best set of skills. They should have a mix of technical ability and soft skill prowess. If you like a programmer based on a truly special skill, make sure to bring them back for round two.

4. Use Experts to Vet on Training

Time to test your shortlist. Bring in the expert you conferred with back in step one to help you proceed with the second interview. Even include a coding test to see if they have skills they claimed to have.

Continue to quiz them on situations that involve attitude. This cannot be stressed enough: Workplace culture is important to the entire function of your business. So only hire employees who can conduct themselves in an appropriate manner.

In the end, instead of listing out the entire array of skills, list out the candidates’ strengths. Which soft skills and technical skills do they have the most expertise in? Also, take a look at their weakest skills and determine whether these are deal breakers in employing them.

Choose the best overall candidate based on strong technical and soft skills. You may surprise yourself and hire the person whose training was the most basic or whose resume was really small and insignificant.

This is where it pays off to hire not based on a piece of paper.

Choose the Right Programmer for Your Business

In order to find a programmer that works well with your other employees and company culture, you want a person with the right skills. Look into what you value as a business and look for that in every employee you hire, programmers included. Use the step-by-step hiring process above to find your ideal programmer candidate based on skills, not training.

For more help finding how skilled your candidates are when it comes to coding, contact us and we’ll help you with the selection process.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *