Setting the developer benchmark

There's plenty of people who complain that they just can't find good software developers, or that they can't separate the "bad" from the "good". Try this on for a benchmark:

Judge a developer by what they do when they're not working

Working as in, working for an employer. Working as in, doing something you'd consider "productive".

Jeff Atwood says (and I agree with him) that there are two types of programmers. The ones who care, and the ones who are doing it because it's just a job. And they fall into the typical 80/20 distribution.

Now, here's an easy way to pick one of the "good" developers. If they do these in their "off" time, you've got yourself a winner:

  • Read programming blogs (reluctantly, slashdot is included here).
  • Work on "pet" programming projects

If you're running a recruitment process, weeding the second one out of them may be difficult. Ask them what they do in their free time, and they'll probably make something up like "go to the gym" (as if) to make it sound like their entire life doesn't revolve around computers. The first one shouldn't be too difficult though.


Submitted by Joelith on Wed 30/04/2008 - 12:38

Hey, I actually go to the gym! In fact as the industry gets bigger there will be more and more normal people (I don't necessarily include myself there) coming in. People who have social lives and go to the gym. 'Management' people.

As for developers I would also add hacking devices. Eg: creating your own media centre, discussing the possibilities of building an asterisk phone server etc

Submitted by Dave on Fri 02/05/2008 - 23:48

I think the only problem I would expect looking in those categories is the type of person who is great at coding, but not much else (including personality. I'm sure we know a few people like this from uni and the workplace). But then again, if you just need developers to churn out code, that might be good enough.

Oh boy, asterisk... I just can't get enough of that one at work :D