Photo Credit: <a href="">Capture Queen ™</a> via <a href="">Compfight</a> <a href="">cc</a>

Know thy Talent!

Photo Credit: Capture Queen ™ via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Capture Queen ™ via Compfight cc

I have been working with Technical Staffing companies for quite a while. First as a manager I have been approached by many firms with candidates they are looking to place. I find many account executives try to oversell their candidates and this can end up coming back to haunt them. A few years ago I started working with a firm that supposedly had a great candidate for our team. We reviewed the resume and then did a phone screening. It became quite clear early in our conversation that they did not have the skills that were on the resume.

Candidate Competencies

I help technical staffing firms review candidates with my Technical Evaluations. I coach them on how to evaluate the talent and discern who is the better prospect. Many firms don’t do their homework when they review candidates. Simple things like reviewing their resume with them to ensure it is factual is a big step in the right direction in understanding their competencies.

Technical Skills

If you don’t have a technical background it can be more difficult to screen candidates. Firms need a good way of understanding what technical skills a candidate has and what they can do. With the basic understanding of the technologies, you can start to see the big picture.  Working with the job requisition, you should be able to gain insight on what are the key skills needed.

Then you should be able to talk through  the candidates experience in how they relate with the technologies they need. Depending on the applicant’s abilities they should be able to tell you their roles on previous projects and what they did in the development of the product. Ask additional questions to clarify roles and the technologies used. Never feel intimidated by the job seeker.

Soft Skills

As you go through the technical skill review you should begin to understand the level of the candidate’s soft skills. If they grow frustrated at explaining the technical aspects that will give you a clue of how they work with other people in the organization.

Technology professionals have some interesting quirks. I once worked with a developer who wanted all requirements just emailed to him, he wanted to avoid all the meetings. The value of face to face conversation was lost on this individual. Jimmy Fallon has even lampooned this on Saturday Night Live. I try to coach many of these individuals to understand the importance of soft skills as they can put a damper on the career development.

Candidate Experience

Famous people have fabricated their resume and gotten caught. Working with technical job seekers, I occasionally see resumes that have been over-inflated. If this slips through the screening process it reflects poorly on everyone. Being forthright many sales executives believe will lose them business. In my experience, I have stopped working with firms that try this.

Years of Experience

A friend of mine was looking for a developer and had a resume that looked great until they brought the applicant in. The developers and the manager grilled them hard and found out that the resume and the experience didn’t align. The company lost out on a lot of businesses and was removed from the vendor list.  To get some business in the short term, they overstated the years of experience and paid the price in the long term.


Often an overlooked item is the type of environments a job seeker has worked in. This can be a powerful predictor of success by looking at the type of organizations people have worked at. Smaller companies tend to have less structure and procedures. If you have the right people who respect this it can work and be very productive. Larger companies usually have the reverse where they have a lot of rules.

Is the applicant use to an agile environment that works in short sprints? If you move them onto a more traditional waterfall team they may struggle with the shift. Asking a few questions and getting to know them is going to really help you differentiate yourself from many other recruiters out there.


Overselling candidates can get old fast. I have had numerous phone calls about “Rockstar” candidates that a firm might have. Working in technology for over fifteen years, I know that no one is perfect. If you brag up your talent you better be ready to deliver. If you don’t you will earn a trip to the back of the line.

How well do you know your talent?

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