Just as a career path for a Java developer is more than coding, finding the appropriate Java developer is more than just scanning the CV for a degree; it is evident by the fact that Google required its candidates to have a degree lowering its hiring policies to make sure it loses none of the talents in the process of sticking to the recruitment benchmark. The main catalyst behind this decision is the increase of autodidactic developers. Now every hiring manager having been caught between the devil and the deep sea have a hard choice to make; education or experience.
So what do you go for, if you are given the chance to choose?
The most important thing that we have to understand is whether the candidate’s skills meet the specifications put together for the role. Be it a candidate with a degree or sans a degree. The IT industry is like a moving treadmill where you would fall down if you don’t keep the next step forward. When education institutions find it hard to keep pace with the advancing technology, it is quite seldom to find the tech skills needed to develop cutting-edge technology through traditional academics alone.
Having said that, not by any means am I belittling the knowledge gained by a Java developer who holds a degree but all I’m trying to say is that now is the time for hiring managers to give a chance to candidates who have trodden a different path; a path that didn’t involve a candidate going to a university to gain a degree. According to a recent salary survey carried out by FRG consulting, it was stated that 85% of the developers described themselves as self-taught and used less formal ways to gain knowledge.
Alex Laing, an advocate of assessing a developer’s skills and a CEO at Leasefetcher, said, “A degree gives developers a three-or-four-year window in which to access excellent resources, learn skills and develop their all-around development game”. But there are other informal ways you can gain knowledge too. Alex himself confessed that he started off by watching videos on Youtube, reading articles, and practising until he mastered the techniques.
Prioritize proven skills
Whether the candidate has a degree or no degree, it is essential that he has the theoretical knowledge and the experience to be handed a task. For instance, a newly graduated developer may show stunning theoretical knowledge but the lack of a portfolio could be a red flag. It’s about you as an employer finding the balance where the theoretical knowledge tallies with experience in a candidate, for a given task.
According to Jon Ostler, CEO of Finder, a degree is not a significant factor, it is an excellent place to start. A degree from a recognized university means the candidate has the programming discipline but if the candidate has no on-paper representation of his skill set, you as an employer can use other practical onsite tests and technical interviews to test the candidate.
Although a degree would give you solid evidence of the candidate’s skills, developers who have had experience working for reputable companies on daring development projects or hobby projects would make a better hire for your organization.
The right developer is necessarily not the one with the most qualifications
While an academic qualification is still regarded with due respect, many programmers are turning to other means of gaining knowledge that gives them the luxury of learning at their own pace and avoiding the expense of universities. Audrey Lima, Managing Director at LY Corp said that programmers can now learn the skills taught in universities on their own terms. She further said” A big number of developers perform well in successful roles without having a programming degree to back up their skill set” Some who had started off their careers in totally different backgrounds have developed their coding skills in hands-on projects over the years, while others have been coding since their early years and are skilled, sought-after developers.
The talent and the skills of these developers make them a great asset to the company, and more importantly, the experience of trial and error that got them to a great position is what employers are on the lookout for. Therefore although a developer might not tick all the boxes in your job description, it is very essential to see that the candidate falls in line with the company culture and vision and more importantly shows a willingness to learn skills.