Three signals to spot a great engineer
In the real world hiring is a numbers game for recruiters. They work as agents and often do not know what to value in a role. As they are not affected by the outcome of that decision, there’s always friction between who gets shortlisted and who is a real fit. Here are the top three traits that I’ve used to make great hires in my 12+ years of experience
In the game of life, it is not about the cards you’re dealt (your degree, brands worked with, etc). It is about how you play the game, convincing everyone that you have a royal flush. We often get stuck in the race of proving ourselves, be it a classroom, office, or relationships. We seek confirmation of our own intelligence, personality, or character. What people say, think about us, matters to us so we ask questions like — Will I succeed or fail? Is it smart or dumb? Will I get accepted or rejected? <endless list>
The 10x mindset is the self-belief that you can reap fruits through your efforts in any given situation. Not saying education is worthless, it does open up the world of knowledge. We as humans differ in our natural talents and aptitude, interests, or temperaments. Like technology, we are also changing and growing through application and experience. I look for this trait in great people by asking about life challenges which they solved anyway! This also qualifies a person’s passion for learning than the hunger for approval.
This mindset of great programmers at work craves feedback that pushes them to grow, and the habit to solve problems. They persist, they see efforts as the path to mastery, and they learn from the success of others.
Humans gravitate toward what’s real. Like meeting someone is more real than a phone call and a call is more real than texting. 10x people are real, upfront, and straight forward in the being of who they are. They are patient with results, impatient with actions. We often misjudge this attribute and fall for what we can see on the outer shell. The ability to accept failures and knowing things will break is the sign of a great programmer. This is a signal of their confidence in the art of simplifying things.
Unassuming Team Player
They are quite. Confidence is quiet. I made this mistake previously of tagging them as introverts, they ain’t, in fact, there’s no such thing as introverts/extroverts. Our environments make us comfortable to talk and share, an engineer once told me this psyche. Great people know what they know, and they ask questions as they want to know, what you know.
They prefer being in the background, work hard and let their success to speak for itself. Everyone likes to work with them, as they enjoy helping everyone around them. They are the team players (this does not mean having the designation of a team lead or a manager). They have the natural ability to manage situations beyond code. This trait cannot be recruited for it always comes with earned wisdom.
In 2019, on one hand, we are talking about culture first hires, yet again getting stuck on showing the benefits at work, free food et al. Culture is a function of the people we are, the ones that we hire, the things we do, and the traits we reward and celebrate. Great people attract other great people by aligning growth mindset, humility and then just trust the process.
Sincere thanks to Nirant who encouraged me to write this post and offered the help to proofread it for grade 6 simplicity, bottom line up front (BLUF), and narrating a story which is worth reading.