Best Practices in Developer Portfolio Evaluation

Finding the right candidates for developer roles hinges on analyzing their portfolio for the skills that are most relevant to the position, which is good for the company and for the developer you ultimately take on. 

One of your most challenging tasks as a hiring manager is to streamline your evaluation techniques to save time and resources when recruiting top talent for technical roles. In FinTech, it takes engineering leaders an average of 46 days to hire technical talent, that’s the second longest timeline only to government services. But with an industry-wide turnover rate about 1.09 times higher than the average, you need to make the people you hire want to stay. Finding the right candidates for developer roles hinges on analyzing their portfolio for the skills that are most relevant to the position, which is good for the company and for the developer you ultimately take on.  

There are some techniques that can make this selection process easier and less time consuming. Here, we break down some portfolio evaluation best practices that we apply at Techtrust to improve hiring efficiency and make the talent acquisition process more effective as a result.   

1. Define the role you need to fill

Before you start searching through portfolios, make sure you have a grasp on the role you’re seeking to fill. Read the job specs thoroughly and take note of any specific skills needed. Other aspects to keep in mind are the job title and seniority level. These details will help you determine how much experience is needed for the developer to be a good fit.   

2. Identify examples of required skills

You may want to create a spreadsheet to break down the required skills for the job, then fill in which skills each candidate demonstrates through the projects highlighted in their portfolio. You can describe their level of proficiency at each corresponding skill in a separate column. 

You can use this spreadsheet as a quick reference for comparing developers and selecting based on their strengths and attributes. Here are some general skills you can look for in developer portfolios:  

Front-end developer skills

Many of the skills that a front-end developer should have will be on display throughout the portfolio. The work at the front end is often very interactive and visual. You should see these talents highlighted in their projects and in the portfolio itself, through experimental displays or interactive demos. The design of their portfolio may also be visually appealing and easy to navigate.    

Back-end developer skills 

By definition, most of the work a back-end developer does won’t be visible. You’ll need to look through their code within their samples to see whether they have a strong grasp of the tools and languages they’ve used. If they work in the open, you can also see how they reason through their options to solve problems and overcome challenges with the tools available. 

Universal skills

Of course, there are some universal skills that you should look for in every developer you hire, which may or may not be apparent through a portfolio evaluation alone. These include communication, creativity, decision-making, and empathy. You may be able to assess some of these skills by noticing any trends or patterns in the type of projects they’ve chosen or how often they’ve collaborated with other individuals or teams.  

4. Move forward or move on

After you’ve gathered all the details you can about each candidate and their respective skills, you need to decide which candidates can advance to the next stage in the hiring process. If you’ve been keeping good notes and updating your spreadsheet, the choice might be obvious. When there are several equally qualified developers, or a few that you’re not quite sure about after evaluating their portfolios, you’ll need to use your best judgment. 

The bottom line

A portfolio is just a piece of the overall picture you’ll get of a developer’s skills, so you may want to give them a chance to prove themselves in the next stages of your recruiting process—this could be a technical interview or coding assessment. 

Alternatively, to avoid this time consuming process, working with hiring experts like Techtrust can be a shortcut to greater hiring efficiency. Because Techtrust has a pre-vetted pool of experts, you know you’ll hire the developer with the skills that best match your needs.