The Bootcamper Dilemma - Spotting Inflated Resumes in Tech Recruiting

The Bootcamper Dilemma - Spotting Inflated Resumes in Tech Recruiting
Post Author: Aaron Decker | Image by Jason Goh from Pixabay
Date published: August 25, 2023

Every job you post related to software development is now flooded with applications from bootcamp devs with no actual experience. How do you deal with this? How do you spot these resumes?

Here are a couple ways you can spot them. Yes, this article is written for new recruiters on your team!

Indicator 1: The Illusion of Open Source Projects

While it's commendable for anyone to contribute to open-source projects, the context is essential. A bootcamper listing numerous GitHub repositories may initially appear as a green flag. However, dig a little deeper. If these repositories consist mainly of projects executed during bootcamp or are collaborations with other bootcamp attendees or even instructors, the candidate likely has limited experience beyond this educational setting.

Flag candidates whose projects appear bootcamp-centric for further scrutiny.

Indicator 2: Employment Experience at the Bootcamp

Listing experience as a "Teaching Assistant" or "Mentor" at the bootcamp they attended is another gray area. While this does show a level of competence and leadership, it does not equate to engineering experience within a professional company.

But even worse I commonly see these listed as an entry like:

Software Engineer, SomethingMetrics

And you have to read in depth to realize this is a fake job "working" at the bootcamp on some throw away project.

Solution: look every company up on Crunchbase or LinkedIn. If you can't find thats not a real job!

Indicator 3: The No-Company Experience Flag

If you notice the first two indicators and see no other employment history in an engineering capacity, you're looking at a resume with no actual engineering experience working for a company.

Solution: again, look every company they reference up on Crunchbase or LinkedIn.

Indicator 4: The Overstuffed Tech Stack

A junior developer claiming proficiency in a smorgasbord of technologies is a glaring red flag. Acquiring depth in multiple languages or frameworks within a short time frame is basically impossible, and this likely indicates a lack of depth of experience in any.

Use Simple Technical Screenings Early

If you actually want to a hire a fresh bootcamp grad you can get a great value for your money. If you find a candidate that is smart, diligent, hard working, and actually interested in software/technology/computers (and not just a cushy job) they can turn into great hires.

But in my opinion, many are simply not up to the task and would be happy doing just about anything other than software development.

Given the saturated market with candidates of this profile, quick technical screenings are your best bet. You might be tempted to use platforms like HackerRank for basic quizzes to vet their technical aptitude before moving to an interview, but I just don't think you can do that anymore.

However, my impression is that if you give an automated test online many (not all) will just cheat on it...

So because of the cheating issue my personal approach is this: I just jump on a zoom call with every candidate and rapid fire very basic questions at them for 10-20 minutes (to clarify - easy ones they should know). If I mostly stump them, well it's a pass. I use the same questions for every candidate so I can compare them easier.

They need to have the camera on so I can see their reactions or it's a pass.

Side note

One thing I have been thinking about doing is technical screenings as a service. If that sounds interesting you should let me know. I think the only way to do these is with a real person, anything automated will be almost worthless given how competitive things have become at the low end.

How do you deal with screening candidates?

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Written By Aaron Decker

I'm currently a co-founder and head of engineering at a venture backed startup called Bounty. I tend to think of myself as a backend engineer that can work up and down the stack in Typescript. Previously, I have worked as a Tech Lead and hired teams, and as a Senior Software Engineer at multiple fortune 500 companies building large products. I also did a brief stint teaching programming courses as an Adjunct Instructor at a local community college, which taught me a lot about breaking down complex things into understandable chunks.