This post is part of my series ”Getting Started With Your Android App”. Click here to start at the beginning.
Now that you’ve written a killer job description for your Android app, you’ll have to figure out which candidates to interview. If you followed my suggestions, you should have a handful of qualified applicants. So how do you narrow your choices down?
In this post, I’ll walk you through how I determine who to select for Skype interviews. I’ll go step by step using an actual cover letter I received for the job description I showed you last post.
Reading the Cover Letter
- The first line “I AM REAL” shows that he followed the instructions from our Android job description. This is good, I’ll keep reading.
- Next, I think, “does it mention anything specific about my job?” No, so he is using a generic cover letter which is fine, but it’s something to note.
- How long has he been developing for Android? Three years, is good.
- Who is Deftsoft Informatics? Maybe I’ll Google that name. Okay, so he works for an agency on oDesk (more about that below).
Agency or Freelancer?
A quick look at his profile facts section lets us see that he works for an Agency on oDesk. In a nutshell, an Agency means that he works underneath someone on oDesk, and they get a cut of his pay. Contractors on oDesk can either work for as a freelancer or with an agency. For more info on oDesk Agencies click here.
The last few developers I hired were all freelancers for a few reasons. First, I didn’t want to pay extra for a middleman if I didn’t have to. Also, it’s difficult to know if the person you hired will be the only one working on your app. Perhaps more junior members on the team will actually be working on it.
This gets even more complicated when you look at the portfolio section of someone who works at an agency. Did they actually create those apps, or did their agency? There is really no way of knowing, because most of the time, all contractors under an agency will have the same apps listed in their portfolio. This is one of my main hesitations of hiring someone from an agency on oDesk.
In the future, I plan to work with a few agencies, so I can do a proper comparison.
Android or iPhone? What’s their Skill Set?
By this point in the Android job application, you may have noticed if your applicant has a tendency to develop for Android, iOS, or other. You can look at several sections to figure this out.
- Job title (above): Does it mention Android? Is that first or last on the list?
- Skills (right underneath their job title): Java is what you are looking for primarily for Android development. Note, these skills are alphabetical, so Android always comes before iOS.
- Recent Work History & Feedback: What are some of the past jobs they’ve worked on? Are they developing for mobile or do they also do web development? I prefer to work with developers that focus on mobile development (and more specifically Android).
- Portfolio: Which platforms are they proud of most? Same questions apply. Web/mobile? Android/iPhone?
- View Full Profile >Recent Job Applications: Here is a sneaky tip. On the right hand side you can see which jobs that this developer wanted to work on. Those ones are listed as “Initiated by Contractor”.
Having someone who develops for multiple operating systems doesn’t have to be a deal breaker, but it’s something you should take into consideration. I always prefer working with something who has a focus or preference to work with Android.
Feedback – What Are Other’s Saying?
More than any other criteria listed on a applicant’s cover letter, feedback matters most to me. Anyone can write a good cover letter, or make up a school they went to, or even pretend to develop an application that they didn’t. But it’s hard to fake feedback.
This is because in order to give feedback, you must have a working contract with someone. Then you are asked to rate their performance after the contract has ended.
Feedback gives you real insight into what it might be like to work with an specific developer. You hear the pros and the cons.
Personally, I want to work with people who have already been reviewed a couple times. Working with someone completely new to oDesk is risky. I realize that someone will eventually take that risk, but it doesn’t have to be you.
But I would also advise against only working with contractors that have dozens of glowing reviews. You can bet that if you found them, then dozens of other people are vying for their attention as well.
This is sometimes a problem, because developers often have multiple jobs running at once. You can bet that if you are not paying someone full time, then they are also working on other apps as well. This means you might not get a speedy response or quick turn around on changes that you need for your app.
A solution to this is to find that sweet spot where a developer looks like they have some good reviews, but they haven’t committed themselves to a bunch of projects yet. You don’t want to be one out of ten people looking for the developer’s time.
This is a difficult section of an Android applicant’s cover letter to asses, because you have to remove your desire to critique based on design. Most likely, the developer didn’t also design the app, so don’t judge the app if it’s ugly or has a bad name. That’s the employer’s fault. Total downloads, number of releases, and overall branding are also attributable to the employer not the developer.
Instead, look for reviews or comments that discuss technical problems such as force close errors or syncing errors.
Most of the time, you’ll see apps in portfolios that have only a few reviews. My best advice, in this case, is to download a couple of the apps on their portfolio, and test them out your self. Are the apps responsive? Do they lag? Did you have any technical errors? This is the best way to see the quality of Android development for yourself.
Useless Sections on oDesk
Out of all the sections on an Android job application, here are sections that are meaningless to me:
- Education: I’ve never heard of 95% of the Universities and Colleges that I have seen on applications, so it’s extremely tough to judge.
- Employment History: Same here. If you’ve heard of their companies before they probably won’t be working on oDesk. Use the portfolio to assess what they’ve done, not where they’ve been.
- oDesk Tests: These tests are completely useless. Users can create new profiles at any time to take the tests before taking it with their real account.
- Any Self-Assessed Skills: Especially “English fluency” and “excellent communication skills.” Don’t believe it until you talk to them.
My Personal Deal Breakers
In my first two years of working with freelancers on oDesk I have created a small list of deal breakers. Anything thing on this list will cause me to decline an applicant’s offer without hesitation.
- No “I AM REAL”: If they can’t afford to take the 10 extra seconds it takes to read my whole Android job description then they are not detail oriented enough to work with.
- iPhone only portfolio: I’ve mentioned before, I don’t want someone who is used to iOS learning Android skills on my dime. Plus the development guidelines are much different for Android.
- No reviews: This might seem harsh, but why risk it? I want to see a handful of reviews.
- Mostly Web experience: Designing for web and mobile are completely different. I want to work with someone who has a focus on mobile.
- No portfolio: How else am I supposed to assess what they can produce?
After this assessment of your Android job applicant, you should have a great idea of whether you want to interview this candidate or not. In my next post, I’ll go over some questions to ask on your Skype interview.
Questions for you:
- Was this too long of a post?
- Do you have any deal breakers that weren’t on my list?
Image credit: MIKI Yoshihito