Resume-Driven Development

Reviewed by Greg Wilson / 2022-03-16
Keywords: Organizational Behavior

We value specific technologies over working solutions, hiring buzzwords over proven track records, creative job titles over technical experience, and reacting to trends over more pragmatic options.
The Résumé-Driven Development Manifesto

I've been on the job market three times in the past four years. Like most people, I have some horror stories about bad hiring practices, but I'm collecting some new ones now that I'm on the hiring side, and this paper brought some of them into focus. The authors define résumé-driven development (RDD) as, "…an interaction between human resource and software professionals in the…recruiting process…characterized by overemphasizing numerous trending or hyped technologies in both job advertisements and CVs, although experience with these technologies is actually perceived as less valuable on both sides." They go on to build a statistical model of the factors shaping the feedback loop based on surveys of both programmers and the people who hire them. Their key conclusion is:

We…observe a tendency by hiring to cater to the preferences of applicants, who mostly enjoy using new technologies. …[In] reality, such manipulative advertisements are not fully in line with the actual demand of employers. Applicants, on the other hand, may react to this technology focus even stronger, promoting them in their resumes in turn. RDD may thus develop a momentum of its own. While it seems intuitive to suspect the shortage of skilled developers as a driver for RDD, we found no related predictors to be significant in our sample…

One of my tech friends is a fan of trailing-edge technologies: things that have worked so well, for so long, that people feel slightly embarrassed getting excited by them. As I page through applications for a database administrator position that put experience with blockchain front and center, I'm left wondering how to break the vicious cycle that Fritzsch et al describe.

Fritzsch2021 Jonas Fritzsch, Marvin Wyrich, Justus Bogner, and Stefan Wagner. Résumé-driven development: a definition and empirical characterization. In Proc. ICSE 2021, doi:10.1109/icse-seis52602.2021.00011.

Technologies play an important role in the hiring process for software professionals. Within this process, several studies revealed misconceptions and bad practices which lead to suboptimal recruitment experiences. In the same context, grey literature anecdotally coined the term Résumé-Driven Development (RDD), a phenomenon describing the overemphasis of trending technologies in both job offerings and resumes as an interaction between employers and applicants. While RDD has been sporadically mentioned in books and online discussions, there are so far no scientific studies on the topic, despite its potential negative consequences. We therefore empirically investigated this phenomenon by surveying 591 software professionals in both hiring (130) and technical (558) roles and identified RDD facets in substantial parts of our sample: 60% of our hiring professionals agreed that trends influence their job offerings, while 82% of our software professionals believed that using trending technologies in their daily work makes them more attractive for prospective employers. Grounded in the survey results, we conceptualize a theory to frame and explain Résumé-Driven Development. Finally, we discuss influencing factors and consequences and propose a definition of the term. Our contribution provides a foundation for future research and raises awareness for a potentially systemic trend that may broadly affect the software industry.