Sunday, October 12, 2008

Deconstructing the current recruiting problem...

I just returned from Ohio Linux Fest (OLF).

My talk this year was aimed at Linux (Free Software) and Open Source types -- and how to manage a career in that context. My brother, for the first time in his life, got to see me doing a public speaking gig. His comment was that most of my talk was universal. I was glad to hear this, as I meant to give, basically, a high level overview of what most people (tech, and he's one of those, just not with Linux), miss, in the context of what their job really is.

Which is to say, it's not just a job -- it's way more than that. Most tech people, however, treat their career and where they're at with it, with all of the thought of what they're wearing that day. If you were at OLF, you would know how funny this truly is -- everyone was wearing jeans and a tee-shirt.

(Oh, except for me -- what do you expect)

Anyway, the problem is that a lot of them wake up one day after 10-20 years and ask questions with answers that all sound a lot like "too late". My talk was meant to do a couple of things:

  1. Wake these people up, and give them a lot of good advice in as short a time as possible.
  2. Get some of them to think about working with me at Rosetta.
The first thing above is truly alt altruistic of me. The second one is very selfish, and I admit it. They both exist in the same reality.

Honestly, the present recruiting problem I'm up against is a first for me. In the past, when I've needed talented people to come work with me it's been pretty easy to find them. Things lately have gone pretty crazy at work and now all of a sudden I'm in a space where I'm looking for more people and it's not all that easy.

And it turns out, I'm not alone. At Ohio Linux Fest this year there were a couple of vendor tables that were purchased by people that were strictly there to do something similar to what I was doing -- they were there looking for talent.

Talent, it seems, is the real new currency. I predict that it won't go down in value anytime soon.

Lots of things are contributing to the problem:

  1. More technological and functional breadth: there's, every day, more stuff being added to the collective unconscious of the typical organization. More technology, sure, but also stuff like ITSM methodology, for example, which isn't a technology, but a functional requirement. As more and more "stuff" gets added, and more organizations attempt to figure out what to do to find people that know how to do this "stuff", the typical recruiter has a harder and harder time finding people that meet the requirements of the moment.
  2. More churn: People are simply bouncing around more. I think this is good, because honestly some people don't belong, for example, in IT these days. It's pretty grueling, and if you're not cut out for it, or not passionate about it, you honestly need to find something else that fits the bill.
  3. The same amount of talent: Let's put this another way -- a general rule is that talented people are born, not made. You can help talented people learn new stuff, but for certain types of work, it's more about finding talented people to train -- a "generic" resource, with no talent at all, is not going to be an item that can be ramped up into the job at hand.
All in all, these things are causing some serious choke points for me (and obviously lots of other people as well).

All in all, the show was awesome. If you haven't made it to Ohio Linux Fest and are into Linux, man are you missing out. The event was pretty eclectic and chock full of good reasons to be there. I learned a lot about new things by listening to buzz and as usual, met a lot of really good people that were great contacts.

I learned that I wasn't alone on the talent acquisition front as well.


Roland said...

Come on! I was wearing khakis and an oxford all day. I even wore a tie for my talk. It's odd to feel out of place dressed like that, but indeed I did. No one tried to throw me out for wearing the tie, though, so it's okay.

Anonymous said...

Great talk! Can you post your slideshow here?

FeriCyde said...

Yes, I've given them to the event organizers -- as soon as I get a link back I'll put that here. It should be available off of the OLF main web site.

FeriCyde said...

You can get my slides (and those for other talks) using this url: