How to Identify Key Projects in Developer Portfolios

The demand for talented software developers is growing, and is projected to continue to grow by 25% in the next decade. But finding and hiring the most skilled developers in the industry isn’t simple. One of the best ways to match the right candidate with the most suitable role is to start with a comprehensive portfolio analysis. 

Aside from a live skill demonstration, the portfolio is your gateway to understanding the candidate’s background, and should give you a good overview of the types of projects they’ve been successful with in the past. But it’s not always obvious which projects are less relevant and which demonstrate the highest project significance for the role you need to fill.   

Here are some approaches that Techtrust uses to quickly determine the key projects to look for in developer portfolios as we pre-vet potential candidates. 

Filter portfolios for desired skills

You probably don’t need to do a full portfolio analysis for every candidate. Many portfolio platforms, like GitHub, have a search feature that you can use to narrow your criteria to developers with the skills and experience in specific technologies essential to the position you’re recruiting for. Then you can drill down even further by taking a closer look at the projects in their portfolio that clearly demonstrate a level of proficiency in those skills.

See what skills have been developed over time

Much like what can be done with a resume, there are many ways a developer can organize their portfolio. If the projects are listed in chronological order, you may have to sift through some more recent but perhaps less relevant work to find those that demonstrate the skills you’re looking for. But if the order isn’t chronological, they will probably showcase their most relevant and strongest projects first.  

If all the projects seem equally relevant, compare the earliest work in their portfolio to their most recent projects. If many years have passed between those two points, you should be able to identify which skills they’ve invested in improving over time. 

Projects in their niche

While most developers will have a variety of projects in their portfolio, their best work should be in their area of expertise. Identify the niche they specialize in and the projects in that area. For example, do they usually work in front-end, back-end, or full stack development? If every project is in the same specialty, compare their most recent projects to earlier projects and you’ll see how they’ve grown and developed those skills over time. 

If the portfolio seems all over the place and the projects don’t seem to share a particular niche, this could be a sign the candidate is less experienced and hasn’t found a “specialty.” It could also mean that they enjoy learning new skills and will be eager to take on new challenges in their next role. 

Collaborative projects

The collaborative projects a developer has worked on will provide some details about their non-technical skills. If the developer took on a leadership role, that indicates they are good at problem-solving, decision-making, and motivating others to achieve results. Even if they were just a contributor, working as part of a team demonstrates other soft skills, such as communication, meeting deadlines, and adapting to any shifts in the team’s goals or requirements.

The bottom line

Identifying the key projects in developer portfolios that best demonstrate the skills and potential of candidates is a complex and time consuming process. But if you’re already implementing tactics like these and still struggle to hire the quality technical talent you need, consider working with a technical staffing agency who specialize in helping you hire the niche talent you need to launch your next product feature.  We help you identify all the must-have technical requirements for your open roles then find you the perfect match.