Programmer vs. Project Manager: What Should You Share in the Hiring Process
Resume. Email. Phone Screen. Interview. Follow Up. The hiring process has several components and there are different focus areas for every position; however, one discussion comes up commonly on the difference between the things that programmers should share in the hiring process versus what project managers should share. The answer is both a bit obvious and yet rarely followed. So, what are those key areas to focus on and what should be avoided?
Obviously in the hiring process, programmers are asked to focus on their technical capabilities, their ability to communicate with the team, as well as the scope of their past positions. Project managers are asked about the sizes of the projects they have managed, the timeliness of the project, the management of scope creep, the ability to manage the budget as well as the team and more. How should you communicate your experience and how deep should you go?
Hiring managers have questions for both programmers and project managers that begin the same way. Tell me about a particular project you were working on and how it went. Tell me about the technologies you used. Tell me about collaboration across the team. Tell me about the methods you used. These questions are deceiving depending on whether you are a programmer or a project manager.
The answer of ‘what’ to share is important and so is the ‘when’ to share it. Don’t try and say everything in your resume because it needs to be brief. Technology recruiters coach you to keep your resume focused on your particular role and it is alright to mention (be brief) the other areas. The phone screen and interview needs to be highly informative and yet not run all over the place. The project manager needs to weave the technology into the project and the programmer needs to weave the project into the technology. Remember, both roles require different levels of communication abilities and practices so talk about them accordingly. Emails and follow up allow for further clarification and need to be targeted to gaps and important areas of expertise.
Programmers: What to Share
- Depth of technology experience
- Specifics around your programming capabilities
- Ancillary technology that is relevant to the role
- Scope of the project (smaller detail)
- Teamwork and Collaboration
Project Managers: What to Share
- Depth of project experience
- Specifics around timelines, scope and budget
- Team motivation and accountability
- Communication across team
- Technology utilized (smaller detail)
Be Who You Are
While the questions from hiring managers are nearly the same for both roles, how you answer the questions is the important part. We all feel the need to be everything to everyone and the fact is that the project manager is responsible for the overall project and the programmer is a key part of that project. Technology recruiters commonly tell you stay concentrated on your area, which is good advice.