Aug12th2007

Hiring Engineers in China

Has anybody else out there had issues with finding good people in China? My problem is not the vast swath of never ending bodies lining up for a job, or even the various diluted names for degrees these days, “Bachelor of Internet Marketing”, “Bachelor of E Business Sanitation” – a problem not limited to China. Whatever happened to the traditional courses and studies at Uni? Arts, Economics, Commerce, Engineering, Law, Science, Medicine?

Anyway, I digress. My problem is one of “Resume Fluffing”. Now most people the world over are probably guilty of creative resume writing, however what I never understood is that while you may get away with that in less precise industries like Law, Policy, Marketing, Trade, Secretarial, Education, etc. When it comes to stuff like Engineering, Accounting/Banking and say the ability to fly a plane as examples. Surely one must understand that their resume fluffing rouses can only go on for so long? It is very boolean, it either works or it doesn’t and no fancy power point or speed talking can change that fact.

So while I used to do the normal, get a stack of resumes, filter, interview, test, 2nd interview, hire. I now go about hiring like this:

1. Get stack of resumes

2. Filter out all students who studied overseas. They often have an inflated belief in their value which is often no better than a local grad

3. Filter out all resumes where the candidate has no variety in their background. I like to see people who have tried to uncover what they like and don’t like already. The more variety they show, the closer they probably are to understanding what they want out of life and work/career

4. Get candidates in and make them sit a simple, yet sneakily composed written test. This gets rid of a lot of poor candidates right away and takes little effort

5. Remainders sit a basic Linux exam, a practical one, with time limits – a lot like how Red Hat do it for their RHCE. This is a good way to see how a person can do a job or not with real world deliverables. These practical tests are not very hard on the tech side, but they are very hard on the fluffy resume writers!

6. First Interview – hit the tech side of them

7. Second Interview – hit up their personality

8. Offer – hope they turn out OK and don’t just jump ship in 3 months because someone else offers USD $50 more a month, despite the culture of learning environment they will be going to and leaving behind

In the end you can teach a good worker anything, and by weeding out as many charlatans as possible and then comparing the remaining candidates test results to their “alleged” resume, then one can tell, who is a patient and malleable lump of clay….and who is……well a trigger to rinse and repeat this process.

And no, their study marks are not worth crap. Neither are CISCO certifications or Microsoft certifications that are a dime a dozen and are not hard to acquire, legitimately or otherwise. Yes, I am a Linux freak, but generally speaking, it is the only technology and test (practical) that is anywhere near an industry standard benchmark as far as I am concerned. If they can’t do Linux, then they can’t do much at all. If they can, well, I will devote my time to helping nurture them into great workers.

Any thoughts out there?

4 Responses to “Hiring Engineers in China”


  1. Jul22nd2009
    1 G Jul 22nd, 2009 at 2:57 PM

    A linux ‘freak’ is probably the most accurate term you could have conjured.

    Cisco and Microsoft low-level certifications are common place here. The higher end certifications? Not so, my friend. I would get onto the real meaning of the term ‘engineering’, which you don’t appear to be involved in after trawling through this webshit, however it is a bit big of yourself to name yourself an engineer, when you essentially mess about with code on linux platforms.

    Ridiculous. Your high horse appears…well, too high.

  2. Jul22nd2009
    2 richard Jul 22nd, 2009 at 3:56 PM

    Uh – huh.

  3. Mar22nd2010
    3 Richard Sharpe Mar 22nd, 2010 at 12:10 PM

    Strange first reply … I work in an software engineering organization, and do a lot of work with and on Linux, eg, SCSI LLDs, kernel code, Samba, iSCSI, as well as vxWorks stuff.

    So, it certainly seems possible to do engineering work with Linux. Indeed, I would say that Data Domain does just that.

    Maybe he just got up on the wrong side of the bed.

  4. Apr8th2010
    4 richard Apr 8th, 2010 at 9:36 PM

    There are a lot of foreigners here that can’t get real jobs and while jobshere aren’t all over the place – all it takes is a little bit of hard work – though most people are only skilled in their one area of expertise and lack to business and social skills to leverage that for more in an environment like China. So my bet is on personal disgruntlement being taken out on others. I see it quite a lot here.

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