Some employers and recruitment agencies seem to put more emphasis on quantity (i.e. number of years of experience) than quality (i.e. calibre of the candidate). Some candidates are more pro-active and passionate about their achievements, skills and widening their horizons while the others get into a comfort zone performing repetitive tasks.
So the point I am trying to make is that the recruitment process (at least the initial screening) should qualitative not quantitative. For example
Initial assessment should be via phone screening, written tests and/or coding, aptitude test of all the applicants.
Followed by face to face technical & culture fit interview of the short-listed candidates. Written code can be reviewed in addition to other technical interview questions.
What are the benefits of the above approach?
Lieing or exaggerating: Candidates won�t be tempted to lie or exaggerate in their CVs.
Nature of the experience: Employers can potentially identify who has 4 year experience and who has 1 year experience repeated 4 times in the earlier stage of the interviewing process.
Effective CV: High calibre candidates won�t be penalized for lacking marketing skills i.e. failing to write effective CV. I can hear some of you saying that isn�t that important part of any job hunting process? Yes that is correct but CVs can lie or exaggerate also look at my next point.
Large vs. Small Company? Also CVs can be assessed not based on achievements but based on the number of years of experience and the type of the organization (e.g. large multi-national). It shouldn�t matter, which company you worked for but what matters is what you did there and your achievements. For example: My first java/J2EE role was in a large financial institution (i.e. a stock exchange) where I was screened via a technical test, a technical interview and a HR interview. The type of project I worked on and skills I gained there was more like repeating 1 month 6 times. So I decided to move on after 6-7 months (luck me it was the internet boom time). I moved on to a small software development house where I was fortunate enough to work with some of the top-notch Java/J2EE developers & architects. It was a mission-critical project and was like acquiring 2 years worth of skills & experience in 6-8 months. This assignment not only boosted my career prospects but also my confidence. But when I applied for my future jobs, my experience with the large finance company (i.e. a stock exchange) stood out to my prospective employers & recruitment agencies. That is when I decided to change my CV to more skills & achievements driven.
Peaking at the right time: Some employers and recruitment agencies put more emphasis on your past academic (e.g. grades in your degree, high school etc) achievements, which is not a bad thing but I have worked with talented Java/J2EE professionals who peaked at the right time in their career. These are the candidates who get through their schooling and degree as an average student and develop a passion for their chosen career. These candidates will be pro-active, hard-working, studious and take pride in their achievements.
Finally, in my opinion all comes down to whether employers want to hire the top-notch Java/J2EE professional or someone who can just do the job. This can make a difference to the quality of the code written, ability to meet deadlines and achieving the project goals.
Hmmm... when I interview, my expectations go up a little when some one says they have more than 4 years of experience. Its quite easy to find out who has really been learning the whole time and who has been warming their chair everyday for the last X years. You can train someone with less than 2 years of experience provided their fundamentals are good. If after 4 or 5 years a candidate's fundamentals are lacking solid ground it can be difficult from there.
So what would anyone recommend a candidate to do if in their current company they will not be given the chance to grow their repetative skill using the proper methodologies, but they understand the proper methodologies very very well.
However, when looking out for new job opportunities every single job description request 3+ years of the experience that the candidate knows s/he could do very well if just given the chance.