Meet the Expert! Q&A with Eric Hogue, PHP developer
As a Headhunter with Pronexia, you have the privilege to meet, interview and build relationships with some pretty awesome people from every corner of the globe. That includes everyone from Fortune 500 VPs to visionary entrepreneurs, physicists from MIT to developers from ground breaking start-ups. In recruitment, it’s important to know where people come from, where they want to go, and what motivates them to get there. Through this Q&A series, the goal is to understand the different perspectives of top professionals in different fields, and recognize what separates them from the pack.
Meet Eric Hogue!
Through his clear and admirable devotion for PHP, Eric Hogue has become one of the faces for the ever-growing PHP community here in Montreal. You may ask – what does it even mean to be a “devoted” PHP developer? Well in Eric’s case, he’s kind of a big deal and here’s why: he is the official organizer for PHP Quebec; a presenter at PHP specific conferences including ConFoo; a team lead for Data Candy; and the host of his very own hilarious, insightful and informative Twitter account (@ehogue). His respect in the PHP community is undeniable, which is exactly why I wanted to specifically pick his brain on the recruitment industry, what motivates him, and what advice he can provide aspiring PHP developers. In honor of the recent PHP 7 release, here are 7 questions with Eric Hogue!
How can the relationship between developers and the recruitment industry be changed (for the better)?
If recruiters want to reach out to developers, they need to do more than just mass mailing everyone that happens to have the technologies they want somewhere on their LinkedIn profile. This is a sure way to get blocked by any developer who has options. If you contact a developer, tell them why. If you have an opportunity, make sure it matches their profile. And tell them about the opportunity. Give them the details so they can decide if it’s interesting or not. If you don’t have an opportunity, but want to know them so you can match them better if something comes up, tell them. Again, they’ll decide if they are interested.
Don’t lie. If you make a phone appointment, call when you said you would. If the jobs you had in mind is not available anymore, let them know. Don’t just disappear when they are not valuable to you anymore. Word spreads out.
What should more companies be doing to attract top development talent?
This needs longer term investment. First, you need to make sure your current developers are happy at work. If they are not, people will know. If your developers are not happy, fix that first.
Invest in the community. Sponsor the local user groups. Ask your developers if they want to attempt in exchange for a few hours off. Or better yet, see if they want to speak and give them time to prepare. Let them be the ambassadors of your company. If they are happy at work, they will attract other developers.
If you use any open source, contribute back. Let your developers fix bugs and send patch for the tools they use in their work. That gets you a better product, keeps your developers happy, and helps makes other developers find out about your company.
Once you are known to the community, when one of your employees says there is an opening in one of the coolest company in town, people will apply.
Also, consider getting remote employees. Cal Evans says that if you are not considering remotes, you’re not looking for the best, you’re looking for the most convenient. Remote employees are harder to manage, but it opens the pool of available developers a lot.
Make sure you pay well. Your competitors do.
Companies often ask for “passionate developers”. How can a developer prove their passion for development?
There are many ways to show passion. It can be a blog, a twitter stream, open source contributions, or participating in events. But in the end passion really comes out when I speak with the developer. When I see them get excited about something they built, I know they are passionate about what they do.
However, I’m careful with companies asking for passionate developers. That often translates to passionate enough to work crazy hours with no compensation.
You once tweeted – “Don’t put your jobs description on your resume, tell me about your accomplishments.” – What type of accomplishments should developers be telling recruiters, HR and hiring managers?
Pretty much anything other than “I was responsible for producing code to add features to product X”.
They should have concrete examples of what they worked on. Applicants need to remember that most hiring managers and recruiters get tons of resumes. They need to make sure their resume doesn’t put the readers to sleep, or they’ll just move to the next one.
They should write about the products they worked on, the technologies they used. Talk about how they improved the performance of the application. How they took the response time down by X milliseconds. Or about the new technology they introduced. Or how they automated some tasks to allow the rest of the team to focus on more important work. Or about the new developers they mentored.
Show the hiring manager that you will be a great addition to the team.
Your Twitter account is both informative and hilarious, and you’re clearly social media savvy. Why do you use social media? And how can developers benefit from using social media?
There can be multiple benefits for developers. First you make friends. I’ve met most of my friends in the community on Twitter, or in IRC before meeting them at a conference. Some I’ve never met in person. You get to share information and learn from what others are sharing. As you get to know people, you can meet people that would be able to help you if you run into problems with tools they use. You also get to help others and show your expertise.
I use social media because I have fun doing it. Twitter and IRC are my main tools to exchange with the community. I get news from my friends and see what they are working on. It also allows me to share what I am learning. Maybe someone else will be interested by it.
Through organizing PHP Quebec and presenting/attending PHP conference like ConFoo – you’ve clearly become a leader in the PHP community. What motivates you to have more of a visible presence in the community?
This is simply my way of giving back to the community. I would not be where I am today without the community. It’s the community that exposed me to the tools I use today. It showed me where my weakness are, and gave me resources to get better.
By being involved, I can give a little bit of that back.
Any advice for aspiring PHP developers?
Reach out to the community. I’ve been isolated for a long time. Thinking I was a good developer. My first conference was an eye opener. It showed me how little I knew. I got exposed to so many things I did not even know existed. I met great developers. It was a really humbling experience. I probably learned more every year since that conference than I had in the 6-7 years before that.
If new developers can’t afford to go to conferences, there are alternatives. User groups like PHP Quebec are free. They usually meet on a regular basis. And on top of learning from the talks, they get to meet other developers with who they can talk development. I am also a big fan of Nomad PHP, an online PHP user group. And Day Camp 4 Developers, an online conference. Those two are not free, but they are affordable.
New developers should also try to get a mentor. Someone who can guide them in their learning and their career. Show them their weak spot. A good resource for that is PHP Mentoring. They should register, look for mentors that match their needs and reach out to them.
Thanks a lot, Eric! Keep rocking it!
– Stephane de Roussan, Headhunter with Pronexia Inc.
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