Skills that I Look for in a Software Engineer

February 15, 2012

I’ve been with Software Engineering Professionals for the past five years, starting right after I graduated from college. A few years ago I joined the recruiting team for SEP, and I’ve been focused mainly on recruiting for our engineering positions.  Recruiting has been busy again recently – career fairs, interviews, interns, etc.  In spirit of the recent recruiting events, I wanted to write about what skills we look for in an engineer.

Like any recruiter, I focus my search first on people who have worked to earn their degrees in engineering, computer science, mathematics and other related fields. But holding the perfect degree isn’t a hard and fast rule. We also look for a good GPA and strong involvement in campus organizations, extracurricular activities and other things that make candidates more well-rounded.

What is better than just a degree?
Better than just a degree, we look for passion. I know that sounds a little clichéd, but we don’t just say it to wear out the phrase!

What we look for above all things is someone who’s a hobbyist. I want to hire someone who loves the work they do and has pursued their passion outside their normal coursework. I want to see someone who’s contributed to an OpenSource project, created their own mobile app, turned out some product that they’re proud of and ready to spend a few minutes presenting to us to show us they’ve gone above and beyond.

Bonus points – community involvement.
I want to see a candidate who’s spent time browsing topics and questions on Stack Exchange/Stack Overflow, provided good answers to other users’ questions and earned a good reputation among members of those communities.

Simply doing well in classes isn’t enough anymore. Textbook-learning alone can be outdated, and technology progresses much more quickly than textbooks can be updated and printed.  You can get bonus points by being active in the software community.

I’m looking for people who are applying what they’ve learned in school and gone beyond their traditional education, people who would be programming and working with computers even if they didn’t make a career of it. We are hiring for passion!