Thursday, November 7, 2013

Interview: Talent Shortage or Poor Hiring?

Read another article by the Evil HR Lady on talent shortages. I believe there is a talent shortage but not in the same sense that the article discusses. Judging from my interviews, I can tell that most of my coworkers were qualified for the job but were they good? That is a different question. When they say talent, do they also mean that they are talented or has sufficient skills to do the bare minimum?

Sure they had the qualifications and some even had better qualifications, but they lack ability to adapt to many of the changes that occur in the technology field. I believe one of the entropy to company growth is the inability of some people to grow independently. I do not know how many hours I have wasted training people who just have no interest or will to learn something new.

I am one of the few people who is not part of the legacy employees who have been there for 20+ years. Initially, that sounds like they would have great wisdom but much of it have been obsolete a long time ago. They were impressed by classic asp solutions where ASP.NET has already been around for a decade. Agile has been around for a decent amount of time now, yet we have struggled with its adoption for a couple years now and still not fully implemented. I found that the problem is not because we did not have the talent, but that we also had poor talent. Because they were unable to adapt and change, technology and process was more difficult to adapt and change. Because we also live in a culture where our tools also have to be foolproof to the lowest denominator, solutions that we used to manage projects, time, and defects also must be adapted for the new process as well as people unable to adapt at the same speed.

While I'm kind on the topic of poor hiring, I always found it amusing when I saw requirements for 10+ years of a certain technology when it has been around for less than 10 years. I recall around 2008-2009 that positions required 10+ years of ASP.NET experience when the initial release was around 2002. It was not programming in general as if it was grouped with C++ or java. I have even confirmed that with recruiters.

All job positions require "excellent" communication skills and yet most people I work with do not have excellent communication skills and a good number with sub-par communication skills. So what do they mean by excellent communication skills? I consider mine to be rather poor yet my documents and decks are used, adopted, or made into templates. Many even going up several levels higher than I had intended for the documents to go. This is rather discouraging that even managers are not even at par with my work. Besides actual artifacts, very few people have empathy to fellow coworkers. Everyone has their own views and very stubborn with that state-of-mind, and I always seem to be the center of repairing inter-departmental relations or supporting good talents.

But I am not without my faults either. Unfortunately, one of my weakest abilities is regurgitating information. I cannot just list out items that do not occur on a regular basis. For example, I am not good at answering definitions of OOO, polymorphisms, encapsulations, etc. I know what they are and can write examples, but I cannot just spew out the formal definitions without preparing before an interview. So, I do not do well in traditional interviews especially with general recruiters. Fortunately, this "problem" helps me to stay consistent with documentation which I have learned is very important for audits. Sadly, most people come to me when there is an audit because I tend to have the information and also find them but distracts me from my value to the company.

So to end this post, I have made a mental note of a lot of people that I would hire if I had the chance to. Many of them do not look very impressive on paper but have the ability not only to learn but to excel at providing their value. Typically, they're problem is that they are weak in presenting themselves or too humble. And those I believe are the real talents that companies should not only hire and retain, but also change business cultures around. Talents that do bare-minimum work that can be explained on paper, I do not consider them to be talents. But if employment industry believe they are considered talents, then yes there are plenty of them but I wouldn't keep many of them long if I had my own company or team.


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