JUXT is a small agency that is growing quickly. As we grow the technology team, how do we ensure that we bring in the right folks? What skillsets do we want them to have? How do we make sure that they will fit into the culture that we are trying to establish here at JUXT?
Because we are small, we want to be careful to not hire someone who happens to be the right person for the immediate job at hand without thinking about whether we can continue to take advantage of this person in the future. Also, he or she may not be the best personality fit in either the development team and/or even the entire company. Because the company is so small, this person would have a major part in molding the culture of the company, so it is important to ensure that he or she is of the mold from which we want to build.
At the same time, it important that any developer we bring onboard to JUXT has the skills required to deliver the increasingly diverse projects we create to deliver for our clients' increasingly complex needs.
So, given all that, this is what I look for when hiring developers:
For me, this is one of the most important attributes that I look for in new developers. They must have demonstrated the ability to solve problems from the ground up. They must be able to think outside of the box. I want to present them unique challenges and make sure they are able to come up with reliable but innovative solutions and implement them using proper software design and architectural considerations. I don't want people who simply go through their cookbook of design patterns and applies them. Patterns are important, but I am looking for someone who understands how the patterns work and why to use them, rather than just pulling it off the shelf. Generalists, not specialists. This one often becomes the most challenging, but it is something that I've always believed in. I don't want an iOS developer who isn't able to do deliver me an HTML5 website. I don't want a Flash developer that won't be able to quickly learn and build an Android application. I don't want a Java developer who won't be able to build a data mining service using Python, PHP or Rails. I don't want an openFrameworks developer that won't be able to quickly build me a responsive website. Now, will I be able to find someone that has touched all of the technologies that I need? Very doubtful, but that's not really the point. I want to find a good engineer (point #1 above) that was worked on enough of the technologies, but has also demonstrated the ability to quickly learn and deliver using new technologies that he or she may have never used before. Work history and careful interviewing can hopefully determine the suitable skills here. Obviously, depending on the immediate project needs, I may need to find someone who specializes in one specific skillset, but even then, I won't hire someone who I feel will not be able to be a more versatile developer once that project is complete. Love the work.
No matter how good the person is, he or she won't stay if they don't want to work on the types of projects that JUXT creates. Even if they stay, their heart won't be in it and we won't be able to fully utilize the person's skills, and that person won't be motivated to push through to the next level. Fortunately for us, I think that JUXT has a lot of interesting and creative work to excite developers. But they have to decide for themselves if this is where they want to devote the next years of their lives -- working on the kind of work we what have to offer them. Cultural fit.
Of course, any new developer must fit within the culture of our small, but growing agency. At JUXT, this means that they must want to work closely with the entire project team (especially the art directors and designers), be able to and want to work on multiple projects at the same time, take ownership of what is assigned to them, learn new development techniques from others but also teach them to others as well, and follow our mantra of work hard, but take time to have fun as well.
So far, I am extremely happy with the engineering team we have at JUXT. It is small, but extremely productive and collaborative. I look forward to seeing what we can deliver together, and also look forward to growing it and continuing this momentum.
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