Measuring skill

September 24, 2023 3 min

🎨

This is one of the most challenging tasks in today’s world. How can you, in a couple of minutes, ensure that someone has the skills required to perform something? How can a candidate for a job show a recruiter that he or she is capable of doing the work and deserves to be hired?


The most common solution is to determine a specific amount of experience. But that's not quite right, especially for coding…

Why?

Historically, this comes from the perception that time spent working is equal to your output. This proxy worked great back then when more time working meant more products produced in the factory line (i.e. when you had a hard limit on your output). Nowadays, we all know that this does not mean shit.

Problems

First of all, the first problem is that you're implying that the time spent in the role (experience) was productive and that he or she did a great job. How can you be so sure? It's not rare to see people who worked many years in a certain role and are still struggling to perform their duties effectively. A common scenario that I’ve watched a couple of times is that the only thing some people get from their years of working in the field is the need to do things the same way.


Why? Well, because they learned it that way and that works.


I might sound angry now, but one of the things I hate the most is when people don't want to hear/try other options because they think that what they learned in the last years still works.


The tools are changing faster than ever, and new ways of doing your work arrive every day. How can someone be so secure that there aren't better ways of doing something?

Challenges

From a recruiter’s point of view, you are assuming that, by having worked x amount of time in similar jobs, the candidate has already been involved in the same activities he or she will need to perform.


In my opinion, this works just in specific cases, where:

  • work is repetitive
  • tools are the same or change slowly
  • output is directly related to the time spent

In software engineering, there are better ways of showing your skills. From my perspective, having good repositories in your GitHub or contributing to open source means more than a stack of courses or what’s so-called experience.

Conclusion

We need to develop a better way of measuring skills. I don't have the perfect solution for all businesses, but for software engineering, I think it's something like this. The guy got hired by literally working for the company (i.e. contributing to their repo) for free. That's dope. He didn't just show that he could help, he did it. Kudos to the author, Glauber, for that awesome hire. Probably a successful case for both of them.


While there may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for measuring skills in every industry, it's crucial to adapt and explore alternative methods that go beyond simply relying on the amount of time spent in a particular role.