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Would You Hire a Polyglot Developer?

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Would You Hire a Polyglot Developer?

What would you do if you find out you were interviewing a polyglot developer? Would you write them off, or have second thoughts?

· Agile Zone ·
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While participating in job interviews for those applying for a Java role, we had a candidate whose skills lay mostly in Java, but whose last job had been writing C#. My initial thought was, “That is an interesting career path, but not one that is particularly relevant to our needs.”

This knee-jerk assessment was made without even meeting the candidate, and without realizing my bias, it was the most significant aspect that I attributed to them. Which was unfortunate, because by all accounts this candidate’s polyglot development background was on trend.

Polyglot development is all the rage. Companies tout language independence as a sign of their maturity and “best tool for the job” mentality. And you certainly can’t get by without at least having a working understanding of JavaScript and one backend type language. Even those working in the last bastion of monoglot, the mainframe developers writing Cobol or RPG, are starting to feel pressure to upskill into more modern languages.

But is it worth it as a developer to switch languages and ecosystems?

Let me start with a statement that frames the context for my question: job security is your ability to replace your employer, not your employer’s inability or unwillingness to replace you.

If that statement is true, and you already have the magic 5 – 8 years experience in a popular ecosystem like Java, .NET, C, PHP, etc., then is switching ecosystems for a few years a step forward or backward?

I suspect my knee-jerk reaction to the polyglot job candidate, while made in ignorance, is not uncommon. Very few companies are truly polyglot, and on paper would benefit more those with recent experience in the ecosystem the company uses.

This puts the polyglot developer in an awkward position. The bulk of their experience is in an ecosystem they haven’t worked in for some years, making them out of touch. Meanwhile, they only have a small number of years of experience in their new ecosystem, making them less attractive than their rival monoglot developers. Even if overall polyglot developers have more experience in a wider range of technologies, they can still end up on the bottom of the pile.

Or am I wrong? Would you hire a polyglot developer?

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Topics:
job advice ,dev career ,hiring ,agile ,polyglot ,polyglot developer

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