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15Oct/100

Fishing in tide pools

One couldn't help noticing that the computer technology market has improved dramatically – the job posting on the sites such as Dice.com and Monster.com surged by more than 50% since the beginning of the year, and we are all fishing for “talent” (see my previous post) in the same pool of candidates.  The problem is that the pool is shrinking, which brings about my analogy of tides and – by extension – tide pools.

In the lean times – the “high tide” times – the software developer pools were swamped with developers of all calibers, and employers used to getting stacks of resumes of high quality candidates. This might not be the case in the near future as demand for good developers picks up. The waters receded, and we are no longer fishing in the ocean, we are fishing in a tide pool. The landscape is changing; while I do not expect frenzy of the late ‘90s, I see the tables being turned on the employers by the developers with the right skill mix.

Occasionally, a low tide leaves some bigger fish stranded in a tiny pool where might suffocate and die…. But let’s not go there: analogy is a powerful tool, and should be used with extreme caution. Used in moderation it illuminates, take it a notch too far, and it leads to a slippery slope of reality substitution.

update (11/15/2010): there must be something in the air - the Wall street Journal has just published an article with musing on future defections of overqualified candidates once economy improves

14Aug/102

Shhhh… wanna buy some talent?

The reqruiterspeack made its way into boardrooms of the corporations. The talk about “talent acquisition” surreptitiously crept up over the last decade, and became de-facto standard for bundling together workers of all stripes. Whatever happened to skills and knowledge that used to be the market staple over last couple thousands years? What had  happened to the talent, genius, giants?

 Obviously, a devaluation had taken place. Talent used to be unique and mysterious, a combination of skills, knowledge and something not quite identifiable – but you know it when you see it… If you listen to the HR departments today they are all in business of “talent recruitment”, “talent retention”, “talent acquisition”.

How do you quantify talent?  Does this sound right to you: “I have thirty talents working for me”?

One fallacy which this perpetuates is the idea that “talents” are interchangeable. They are not. Talent is unique, a singularity unto itself, and it has to be treated like this.

Tell the Apple board that you’d like to replace Steve Jobs with another “talent” at 50% discount, or Mozart with a diligent graduate of a local conservatory, or Einstein with a hard-working fellow student from Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule…

Another one is that talent can be taught. “Learn to think like Newton, and we’ll teach you how to think like Leibnitz for half-price!”

Maybe, this is the real reason that the innovation sputters in the USA?