Rethinking Hiring

We’ve had endless discussions here, and elsewhere on the Internet, about hiring qualified candidates. We’ve had conversations about interviewing unqualified candidates. There are also no shortage of talented people, evidenced by the the knowledge and code they share on the Internet, who struggle to find good jobs that fit their skills.

It seems that overall, we have a problem in matching people with jobs. Many companies bemoan the difficulties of finding talented development staff, and I understand the challenges. Certainly there is no shortage of individuals that don’t bother to expand their skills and learn good, fundamentals about their craft. Often this lack of skill shows up in interviews and leaves many of the interviewers thinking they’ve wasted thier time, or the candidate has misrepresented their experience.

However, I think part of the issue is the lack of training and investment in individuals the companies make. Maybe one of the more problematic issues I see is that we don’t have good paths for teaching and progressing knowledge, whether inside of a company or as a person seeking to learn. It seems that while there is a huge amount of information available, it is poorly organized, and very cumbersome for an individual to manage. Even with companies, we don’t seem to have well structured training that adapts and helps our staff grow.

I thought this was an interesting piece on how many companies don’t do a good, basic job of deciding who to interview. Too often companies have fallen back on the general guidelines of a degree or years of experience in a job. That’s not a great solution, and since most of us don’t have great track records in hiring, this limits the chances we’ll see good candidates. There are definitely failings on both sides of this equation. I hear constant horror stories from people interviewing DBAs and developers that don’t know basic concepts. However I also hear from candidates that aren’t even called to interview for positions because they don’t have a degree or some other generic qualification.

I do think that many people can learn new skills and new jobs. I think as developers and DBAs, we should be trying to learn new skills, or improve our existing ones regularly. I also think that companies should look to invest in their staff and improve the skills of individuals. I realize that this is a tough task, and there aren’t necessarily easy ways to do this, especially as it seems talented staff might just leave for another position right away.

I hope that in the future we find companies that look to grow their staff’s skills at all levels, with the understanding that they might leave, but they might stay, especially if they are treated well. And if they do leave, a good training program will help minimize the impact, since other people should have some idea of what work is being performed, and new people can be taught the skills they lack.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA Podcast

Listen to the MP3 Audio ( 2.7MB) podcast or subscribe to the feed at iTunes and LibSyn.

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2 Responses to Rethinking Hiring

  1. Hiring a DBA is a pain. In some cases I’ve had to spend over six months going through piles of great looking resumes only to find that people behind them couldn’t maintain a SQL server to save their lives.

  2. trendoid says:

    I really love your blog. The posts always seem to be speaking directly at me.

    I’ve recently went on some paid training, paid partially but grants I believe. It was awesome to meet the other leads and learn the latest tech. I thought it was really cool that the company sent me, even if I have to pay them a fee now if I leave after taking the training. I’m not using any of what I learned any time soon though. Projects planned to use this latest tech were put off. It’s back to jumping thru hoops to support really old code.

    My point is: Giving your developers training is great, but don’t tease them into thinking they’ll get to use what they learn. Let them use it when they get back to work.

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