Hiring a CTO or a System Architect? Don’t ask for their GitHub account!
When considering potential candidates for positions such as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) or System Architect, it is not advisable to request their GitHub account details as part of the application process. A bustling GitHub account may suggest you are on the verge of hiring an adept coder, but that isn’t the primary skillset needed for these positions. These roles call for leadership acumen and project management expertise, not just proficiency in coding.
As a human resources professional, it is crucial to understand that CTO and System Architect roles are strategically focused. The CTO is responsible for managing and implementing the company’s technology strategy and ensuring the technology infrastructure aligns with business needs. Similarly, the System Architect is in charge of the technology architecture, providing a clear roadmap for project managers and developers. Asking for a GitHub account could deter accomplished candidates from applying, as these positions are not code-centric.
This doesn’t imply that coding skills are irrelevant for CTOs or System Architects, especially in software companies. While they may need to review code and supervise developers, their primary focus is not on coding. Hence, even if they have a GitHub account, heavy activity on the account might indicate that they may not be suitable for the role.
Furthermore, keep in mind that you are hiring for a senior position that requires substantial experience. GitHub only emerged in 2008, and the candidate might have substantial development experience prior to this or may have worked in private repositories. They could still be actively coding, but not contributing to open-source projects or publishing their work on GitHub.
Typically, CTOs use GitHub accounts to track project status, manage repositories on behalf of the company, and oversee developer teams. It’s rare for such accounts to reflect a high degree of activity since operational tasks like merging pull requests are usually delegated to project managers. Similarly, while System Architects may check code on GitHub, they don’t necessarily need an account for daily operations.
In conclusion, using a GitHub account to evaluate a candidate for a CTO or System Architect role is not only misguided but may also lead to selection of an inappropriate candidate.
Reflecting on my own career and my relationship with GitHub and similar platforms, I created accounts not for coding but for supervising developers. I started my journey with these platforms in 2010, and over time, these accounts served as gateways to client’s private repositories for code auditing, assistance, and reporting on the progress of various applications and projects.
My occasional coding efforts are usually for high-security projects and are not uploaded online or are stored in private repositories. Even though I have no substantial GitHub activity, I remain adept at coding, having accumulated extensive coding experience before the advent of platforms like GitHub, GitLab, and BitBucket.
Over time, I transitioned into management roles and coded mainly as a hobby. My coding experience paved the way for my progression into roles such as project management, system architecture, and ultimately, the CTO, and even CEO positions. While I retain my coding skills, it’s important not to view me primarily as a developer but as a seasoned manager who understands the nuances of various roles from a top-down perspective.
So, don’t ask for my GitHub account! If you do, be ready to be judged!