Beyond the tech: Personal traits recruiters look for in their next developer

June 5, 2017

When pursuing your next dev gig, getting an offer often comes down to the skills you have or the technology you can use. But it isn’t just the hard skills that make an impression. These days, employers want developers who can shine in other ways, too.

Here’s what these Colorado tech recruiters look for in their next engineer.

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EMS Software serves enterprise-level organizations and educational institutions with their meeting and room scheduling platform. They’ve been in the industry for over 30 years, all the while pushing their technology forward with the help of a talented team of engineers. We reached out to Nick Larche, senior talent acquisition manager of EMS Software, to learn what traits he likes — and loves — in prospective developers.

When hiring developers, what personal traits must they have?

Assuming whoever we interview has the technical chops that we’re looking for, we invest additional resources in determining whether they possess the traits and values that would both advance the pace and quality of our work, as well as contribute to our collaborative and mission-driven environment. Specifically, we look for developers that are driven, humble and flexible.  

Why are these traits so important for both the development team and the team as a whole?

While we’ve been in business for 30 years, we operate much like an enterprise startup. We move fast. Sometimes things break. Priorities can change. It is critical that we have a development team that is willing to take calculated risks, to absorb setbacks, to learn from their mistakes and, ultimately, to push our team and our product forward.

What personal traits are "nice to haves”?

Other traits that we look for include empathy (to properly solve a problem, you need to thoroughly understand it), teamwork (we accomplish more by working together than as individuals) and pragmatism (success is but one result of how you approach an objective).

What personal traits might hurt someone’s chances of getting hired?

Arrogance will disqualify you from consideration. This trait strains team dynamics, negates the learning environment we strive to cultivate, and it limits what we’re able to accomplish as a team and as a company.

Poor listening will also disqualify you. Studies show that we spend between 40 – 60 percent of our day listening to others. Yet, we retain less than a quarter of what we hear. We want developers who listen to understand, not simply listen to respond.


 

CapTechDenver_04212017-Photos-jpegs-captechdenver_0393.JPG

As a technology consulting firm that prides itself on “bridging the gap between business and technology,” CapTech looks for highly capable developers who also know how to thrive in a collaborative, client-facing business. Talent acquisition lead Bryan Meeks shed some light on traits that make someone successful on CapTech’s team.

When hiring developers, what personal traits must they have?

At CapTech, intellectual curiosity, collaborative problem-solving skills, and flexibility are key personal traits that we look for when hiring developers. Being able to engage and integrate with teams is really important for success, both with our clients and across our organization. But we also look for enthusiasm – both for the work itself and achieving more.

Why are these traits so important for both the development team and the team as a whole?

We pride ourselves on being servant leaders for our clients — which to us means empowering those around us by putting their needs first. We are constantly collaborating with client teams and teams across CapTech in order to make our clients successful. Whether that is by bringing new things we’ve learned to the client site to help them innovate or adapting our solutions to fit their ever-changing technology needs, we want to provide world-class service. We are doing challenging work, so our motto is “Let’s help our clients succeed, but let’s have fun doing it.”

What personal traits are "nice to haves"?

We have an engineering-first mentality; platform and tooling are secondary. We are looking for consultants that are flexible to work across different and ever-changing technologies, and who have the intellectual curiosity to continue to learn. Full stack development skills are a great thing to have at CapTech but the skill set should be adaptable to the variety in our clients’ needs.

What personal traits might hurt someone’s chances of getting hired?

We always say, “We check our ego at the door.” Software engineering and consulting is complex work, and people should be proud of the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired. That said, someone who brings a sense of arrogance or over-confidence will likely not fit well with our culture of servant leadership.


 

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At Intelisecure, they believe technology alone isn’t enough to keep a business and its assets protected from cyber threats. They combine cybersecurity technology with managed solutions to ensure comprehensive protection and compliance for their clients. Kelley Krupicka, Intelisecure’s human resources generalist, explains what traits developers need to help support both sides of the business.

When hiring developers, what personal traits must they have?

Humility: It is imperative that team members understand who they are as a person. A great candidate will know his/her strengths and be willing to teach others those strengths. There is never a need to brag about accomplishments because good team members recognize great team members, and recognition will follow.

Sense of urgency: Team members must own tasks and issues and be willing to tackle obstacles that are presented with vigor.  

Why are these traits so important for both the development team and the team as a whole?

These traits are important to teams for the same reason other personal traits are: they are contagious. For this same reason, it’s critical to remove negative personal traits from a team.  The reality is that team members are around each other for significant amounts of time per week. It’s natural that the team will feed off one another in both positive and negative ways. People who desire greatness urgently, without the need for constant accolades, will encourage other team members to act in the same light.

What personal traits are "nice to haves"?

Time Management: It’s important to be able to prioritize competing tasks. It’s also important to respect the time of your colleagues, be punctual when attending meetings, and respond to issues in accordance with the criticality of that issue.

Dependability: If you commit to something, just get it done. Don’t make promises that you are not able to keep.                              

What personal traits might hurt someone’s chances of getting hired?

Selfishness: People who make decisions that benefit only themselves or their team within an organization are detrimental. Every decision made should be made with the goal of the organization in mind, and should improve the organization’s stance, rather than an individual’s or a singular team’s.

 

NextHealth helps health insurance providers lower costs and improve plans by analyzing consumer behavior and empowering consumers to make better health decisions. Great tech is foundational to the business, but developers need to bring more to the table than strong engineering chops. Talent acquisition manager Nancie Halfmann shared which personal traits make developers stand out.

When hiring developers, what personal traits must they have?

Resilience: Developers must be resilient, especially in an early stage company. One shouldn’t hesitate from adapting to new roadmaps and approaches that may not have been in the original plan. This industry requires a lot of patience, and this is what developers deal with throughout their entire career. With deadlines, unexpected bugs to fix, clients to serve, etc., patience and resilience define a developer.

Passion: Developing and building code is like creating a work of art with an addition to new mediums (technologies). One must have passion for the product or technology they're utilizing in this ever growing industry.

Expert communicator: Development is more than often a team sport. Robust communication skills directly correlate with a successful developer and successful team. It is critical to be able to ask the right questions and deliver appropriate answers with a constructive and clear approach.

Why are these traits so important for both the development team and the team as a whole?

Developers have critical responsibilities within a team. Without these traits, an entire project could go up in flames, costing time, money and even worse, the company.

What personal traits are "nice to haves"?

Approachable: This doesn’t necessarily mean they need to be the most outgoing person in the world, but like our company, each team is so reliant on one another. If a problem arises, any member of the company should feel like they can approach a developer with a question or concern.  

Ambition outside of the company: Hearing from our employees about conferences they attended, clubs they’re part of, or projects they’re working on outside of the company really contributes to a positive, passionate company culture.

What personal traits might hurt someone’s chances of getting hired?

“Self-Proclaimed Gurus”: Claiming to be an expert differs from striving to be an expert. It’s not only arrogant but also comes across as “It’s my way or the highway.”   

Dishonesty: Interviewing costs all parties time and money. If one is dishonest about other offers, goals, etc. throughout the process, it can really hurt them from getting hired.

Lack of motivations: I hope that all developers know that this is not the industry where one can simply “punch in and punch out.” Projects and deadlines can go over and the right person will understand that.


 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Photos via featured companies.

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