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Hiring Developers: Slow Down to Speed Up

Finding and hiring talent in the technology industry has been ongoing for decades. One might assume early stumbling blocks have been identified and rectified, right? Unfortunately, hiring development talent is still a difficult area for many employers. Why is this? Most do not recognize the monumental task ahead of them. Having successful, productive employees isn't about hiring the right person. That's secondary. The first step is finding the right kind of people. These individuals are highly skilled and share the core values of a company. They need to shine bright in a team or individual setting. These people are commonly called "A" players or a "10" (rating talent on a 1-10 scale). Good programmers are worth their weight in gold! To clarify, one should be looking for 10s or individuals with the potential to be a 10. Even the most gifted minds don't start their career as a 10, but they have a key attribute in common "potential." A hasty hiring process can lead to hiring 7s or 5s. This is a very slippery slope. So, what's wrong with hiring a few 7s and 8s?

Hiring unqualified talent creates two problems. Without proper guidance most individuals tend to hire others who are similar to them. In other words, 7s don't hire 10s. They hire 5s and 7s. This can spiral into a vicious cycle of mediocrity. Mediocrity is a common enemy of every business. No one wants to have an average product/service or acceptable staff. They want to be the market leader with highly exceptional talent. The second problem: 5s drive away 10s. High caliber talent appreciates working with similar talent. These individuals collectively increase their abilities through challenging one another. This is where "iron sharpens iron." They can also effect potential 10s through osmosis.

Identifying great talent starts with slowing down. Finding the right talent and finding Mr. Right should be viewed in the same vain. It's a marriage and from that union should flow a prosperous outcome. The following is a list of recommendations for hiring 10s:
  • Don't interview in a vacuum. Engage all potential team members in the evaluation process. Other relevant employees might also provide interesting insight.
  • Encourage the natural instincts of those involved. If something doesn't feel right, dig deeper to reveal the underlying reason. Everyone should be encouraged to speak openly and freely.
  • Seek unanimous agreement by all members. If there are any reservations, they should be discussed. It should be a no-brainer.
  • Maintain a mindset of finding the "right fit" and not the "right now fit." Don't be afraid to keep looking.
  • Look for 10s and potential 10s. This can be accomplished in a plethora of ways including personal/phone interviews, multiple visits, personality evaluation, tech screening, programming tests, etc.
  • Identify individuals who adapt well to change. This is a common trait of highly effective people.
  • Seek out candidates who can have well versed dialog about topics. They should display enough knowledge to show exceptional proficiency.
  • Don't hire "yes" men. Look for people who can articulate opinions but are open to constructive dialog.
Although most companies cringe at the concept, they should continuously look for programming talent. Even a passive approach is better than jumping in and out of the market. Good talent is hard to find and most already have jobs. Some don't even make it to the market as potential companies lure candidates away. But when they do enter the market, they are snatched up fast.

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