I see an increasing number of job postings on LinkedIn and other job websites from companies who are actively seeking an API rockstar, ninja, lead, owner, or product manager, and because of my connections in the space, I know that some of the intent behind them are less than sincere. Don't get me wrong, I think ALL companies should be embarking on their API journey, and if that means bringing in outside talent — get it done!
My motivation in writing this post is to help companies be more realistic during their talent search and hiring process as well as internally with their teams. As an IT and lead developer veteran, I have been brought in to take the reins on a number of teams and I have seen a wide range of toxic situations. I understand the internal struggles exist in all companies, but the companies that were the worst for me were the ones where I was blindsided by the depth of the entrenchment and struggle with leadership and internal teams, either because they were in denial or were straight-up bullshitting me — in hopes I might be able to wave my magic wand and just fix everything.
I've confidentially heard many stories from API product leads and evangelists after exiting a company, or sometimes while they are still in their positions, about how entrenched internal leadership is when it comes to "innovation" and "change" — all while putting on a good show that APIs are truly the priority. I understand that companies want to look innovative, hip, agile, flexible, and all the things often associated with APIs, but bringing in API talent only to let them hit a brick wall because they were unprepared just isn't good business.
If you are going to say that you are doing APIs and issuing press releases and promising your customers, partners, and internal stakeholders that you are going to do APIs, make sure you properly prepare any talent you are looking to lead the charge. I'm not saying the API journey will be easy, and you shouldn't be embarking on this journey. I am just recommending that you do not go around hiring API talent only to blindside them upon entry with entrenched, unwilling to evolve internal actors...or if this is the case just make sure you set the stage properly during the hiring process.