Hiring a Software Developer?

When to throw out “must have a college degree” from your job ad

Short answer: Immediately.

Long answer: No, I’m not joking when I say immediately. Long gone are the days that you need to hire a software developer that has a college degree. You actually want the opposite. You want a problem solver, a self-learner, and someone that can think for themselves. The software world is constantly changing and you have to have your team keeping up with the best resources to write the code. In fact, companies like Google, Apple, Tesla, and many other large tech companies have removed “requires a college degree” from their applications.

You actually want the opposite. You want a problem solver, a self-learner, and someone that can think for themselves.

Alane Boyd, Co-Founder, BGBO Co

Google’s former senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Bock, said it best in a New York Times interview, “When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” We have found this to be true time and time again and extends past just hiring for developers, we use this same philosophy in all of our hires. In 2011, we decided to not only remove the requirement of a college degree but we specifically called out, if you do not have a college degree, please apply! We’ve never looked back after hundreds of hires. It was the best move we could have made.

If you aren’t looking for a college degree on their application, then what are you looking for?

The Top 5 Things I Require When Hiring a Software Developer

  1. They must submit code samples when they apply. 
  2. They must describe recent projects they have worked on and what their input in them was.
  3. They use and require building from existing libraries and not custom code every piece of their work.
  4. They may not love them but they write automated tests.
  5. They successfully take an attention-to-detail developer test that we have created.

Hiring a software developer is unique because your formula for hiring that position may look different than any other position at your company, but it doesn’t have to feel like a black hole.


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