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Some candidates for software developer positions have technology related blogs. This is a potential source of relevant information about those candidates.

How should a hiring manager go about extracting that information from a candidate's blog?

Some possible approaches I can think of, in no particular order:

  1. Read everything. (Probably not a viable approach)
  2. Read the latest few posts thoroughly.
  3. Skim the latest few posts for around a minute.
  4. Read the first few results on google when googling the name of the blog, using the ranking there as a proxy for popularity of the posts.
  5. Skim through the list of post titles and pick ones that seems the most relevant to the position and read those thoroughly
  6. Just look at how often the candidate writes posts and how long they are.
  7. Pick the posts that seem the most technical and ask a more technical member of the company to comment on them.
  8. Just skim around the blog for a few minutes and see what your impression is.
  9. Load up the blog and confirm functions properly as a website, without focusing on the content.
  10. Use online tools to try and measure how popular the blog is.
  11. Skim around looking for evidence towards a particular important quality of the candidate. For example, how well does the candidate work with others?
  12. Focus on how the candidate has responded to comments, as a way to evaluate their interpersonal skills.
  13. Play it by ear for each candidate. If you find yourself not wanting to keep reading, take it as a bad sign.
  14. Ignore the blog completely.

Which, if any, of the above approaches seems to be worth recommending? Is there a better approach I haven't thought of?

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  • 1
    I'm someone interested in recommendations for hiring mangers on how to read blogs in this scenario. Is more detail than that relevant?
    – Ryan1729
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 21:41
  • I guess I don't need to be so cagey. I am in fact considering writing a tech blog, and I am interested in what hiring managers tell each other about how to read candidate's tech blogs for that reason. That said, I think it's only fair if this question is useful for actual hiring mangers as well, so I want folks to answer as if addressing a hiring manger. Who knows, I may end up performing that role at some point myself.
    – Ryan1729
    Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 22:06
  • I don't think I have met a recruiter or hiring manager willing to read the second or third page of my resume let alone any industry-specific creative writing.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 19:47
  • TBH I have been asked about my LinkedIn profile so often even though it is the literal first thing on my resume that I suspect giving a hiring manager/recruiter anything to read is a waste of time.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 19:55
  • I've asked a new distinct, but related, question here.
    – Ryan1729
    Commented Sep 3, 2022 at 1:06

3 Answers 3

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Which, if any, of the above approaches seems to be worth recommending? Is there a better approach I haven't thought of?

When I was a hiring manager and reviewing a candidate's blog, I would usually skim it to get a sense of it. If something seemed particularly interesting, I might dig in more. But I would be unlikely to spend a lot of time on it, and less likely to read the entire blog unless it was very short.

Occasionally, I'd make a note of something to follow up during the interview. Sometimes, it made for an insightful discussion. On rare occasions it was easy to tell that the candidate didn't really understand what was in their own blog.

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When I hire people, I do not hire writers. I hire software developers. As such, a blog is nice, but pretty meaningless in the end.

  • People with a nice blog could still not be a good fit for the job.
  • People with no blog at all could still be a great fit for the job.

I will skim the blog for any red flags and if I don't find any, move on.

I'm only human though. If I do see something that engages with the curious side of my mind while skimming, I will remember it and the candidate has a better chance because in my subconscious they will stand out against faceless candidate #36. But that needs to be really special. Not the usual programming blog, I have seen and read thousands by now. Decades ago we had a candidate that described how her Synesthesia makes her "hear colors". That was very interesting, I had never heard about that before. The fact that she could describe something totally alien I had never heard before to me in a way I understood it, certainly made a positive impression.

But as you can see, I have been doing this for decades, and I cannot remember another candidate's blog, they were all the same. Programming blogs. Nice. Probably a lot of work. But of no real impact on the hiring process other than me surfing through them to make sure we don't hire someone I should have flagged immediately as a no-hire because of something really bad.

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Ignore the blog completely.

^ This one, I've reviewed hundreds of software dev candidates and I've never once even clicked on a link to their blog. I've never had another hiring manager mention a candidates blog either.

"Write a tech blog!!" is just another of those meaningless bits of "career advice" theatre that people who write career advice blogs throw out there to fill space. Since no-one can incontrovertibly prove them wrong (after all if the person doesn't get hired it must be that they didn't write a good enough one, or any one of a hundred other reasons for a no-hire) and it sounds good they keep on throwing it out there.

They can point to the blogs of famous devs as a false "proof" that they're right - except the fact that people like Joel Spolsky have famous tech blogs because they're successful software devs, not the other way around and I guarantee as interesting a read his blog is, and how many people in the industry have read it it's never factored into a decision to hire him.

From the candidate's side the potential return for investment is stupidly unbalanced - writing a tech blog that's good enough to even make a ripple in the mind of a hiring manager is going to mean writing one that's basically a professional tech blog i.e. someone who does it for a living. Something that's just thrown together in a spare 45-60 mins a week is going to come across as meaningless box-ticking exercise, and that's even if (and it's a pretty big "if") the hiring manager even bothers to read it.

So unless it's something that comes naturally you're going to have to invest hours of time and effort into becoming a good writer and hours upon hours more time and effort into applying those skills to produce good and interesting content. If you've got those hours "spare" to invest into your professional development you're going to see a much better return in terms of getting hired and in terms of salary expectations by spending those hours on improving your actual technical skills instead.

In my opinion the sooner this stupid fad dies out the better off everyone will be.

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  • I don't think articulating your thoughts is ever useless. It is just not very applicable to job hunting. Probably a better bet writing tech articles for an established website. If you actually got an article published on tech-crunch then that would actually be something.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 19:51

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