HR and Implemented Versus Developed

A recruiter from Tek Systems attends our local Sacramento Java Users Group (SacJUG) told a humorous and depressing story. It went a little like this:

HR Rep: Well, it doesn’t say here they developed any J2EE systems.

External Recruiter: It says designed and implemented two large J2EE ecommerce systems.

HR Rep: But that doesn’t mean they developed it.

External Recruiter: Implementing it means they developed it.

HR Rep: No, they might have only designed it and then deployed the final program, other people could have developed it.

External Recruiter: So if it said “designed, developed, and implemented” you’d be willing to interview them?

HR Rep: Yes.

The recruiter then explained that despite this frustrating conversation, developers would still be happy there because it’s just an HR hurdle and the development managers know what they’re doing. His advice was just to tailor the resume to mention all possible technologies and add words like developed. This way you don’t add extra hassle for the manager to get your resume out of HR.

For me this seriously flips the bozo bit. Even if I worked at a large Fortune 500 company I wouldn’t let HR own my hiring process. The minute you’re letting HR do screening for all but the most basic requirements you’re in danger of losing some of your best candidates. A rock star developer who has to deal with ridiculous HR flak will very often simply walk away from even a high paying opportunity.

To avoid this you write your own job descriptions for postings and don’t get to hung up on must haves especially around technology. You’re looking for the best developers even if they don’t have 2 years experience with JSF or SOA experience. You explain to HR that you want to see all the resumes. I can rip through a lot of bad resumes in a few minutes and I have to live with the eventual hire for years so there’s plenty of self-interest at work. Getting the best candidates is partially a sales job on your working environment, you as a manager, and their potential fellow developers.

Letting HR do a lot of pre-screening is just a bad idea for high end technical hires.