Thursday, July 18, 2013

Reaction | Opinion: You the new spider-chameleon-career-man climbing career ladder the Silicon Valley

agama mwanzae a perfect representation of the new spider-chameleon-career-human
employers demanding all skills present prior to employment

I found the perfect image for this!

TWEET #spiderchameleoncareer

Driving down San Francisco, my friend and I started to chat about being a "spider". She applied for tons of jobs and hate the fact that every job post wants her to be everything. Some of the things she can do like Quality Assurance and Quality Control but also a million other things like Excel, lab assistant, medical manufacturing.... and in addition consulting style business skills.

She the spider will have to spider around at work.

I mentioned the word chameleon, reading that recent employers want chameleons, adaptive, agile (as in the development cycle), learn the environment fast, and obviously changes colors right away. On the development side, we will need to know Rails, Rspec, JavaScript, Backbone.js, Phantom.js, Express.js, may be Ember.js or Angular.js undecided.

Wait, but I am a junior developer?!

Back in the consulting old days, you can see the job description there: 10 years of product management, 10 years of IT intelligence, and 5 years of Sales, 5 years of Marketing, best college like Stanford, PhD is a plus, knowing development is a plus...

wait a second, that's an 100 years old monster alien from outer space.

My favorite was a job post looking for Rails developer with 12 years of experience. One problem : the technology Rails isn't around for 12 years !!

This morning I read on Fast Company how to always enjoy being a beginner : Why Being an Eternal Newbie Leads to Awesome Work . And the older article Beginner's Mind. I love the idea i am a big learning freak: going from Beverage to Law to Stanford Economics to Consulting, and now coding... even wrote a blog post on learning Cucumber in a day. I have a whole system of rapid prototyping and rapid learning. But is this fair for many others?

I have noticed that students paying $5000 and UP for bootcamps, even some $15K +, and joining Code School for $25, Treehouse for $20, and ThoughtBot workshop on Rspec for $1000+.... Before they even get the job, they have to pay so much education out of the pocket. A behavior precisely irony in the age of free education like Coursera.

Why are they so desperate?  It's precisely because many interviewers are saying show me what you can do before you apply. Frequently Product Management jobs will ask me show me what you can do before you apply. So learning on the job is entirely out of the window? Even if you do have a Fast Company Beginner's Mind!

That's to say be a super man women, have everything ready, be ready to learn more, be a super star, spend all your time at the company, and join all the hackathons, and spend zero time outside your life doing arts and reading, maybe you can join a team of shiny startup with great perks!

And as an everyday behavior economist, I'd like to point out that: we have forgotten that these employers and interviewers WERE NEVER EVALUATED under the same criteria! I'd like for every top ladder guy and girl to introspect would they ever have gotten the job if they apply now?

We had this dilemma at Stanford before. The new class of freshman often has a 0.1% lower acceptance rate than the previous class. That's a lot! That means the application has to be a whole lot stronger. People forgot that they started with nothing once, and forgotten to provide the mentorship that they once received.

Success in the Valley is organizational skills, business acumen, a lot of money, and opportunities, i.e. chance and luck! No one can read the entire Twitter history and recreate the success for their own company. Back in the old days, scientists have shown us that just because they invented something, and were smart, doesn't mean they can capitalize on their inventions.

Success is much more accidental than we would like it to be on news channels and sensational article coverages.

I say the employees figure out rapid and productive learning and the employers start to mentor and be more patient and forgiving. 

And employers to stop using recruiting networks and recruiting sites, and build their own recruiting team that ask for reasonable criteria.  I cannot like sites like Jobvite, because it builds a glass wall from applicants and the company. Both are spending enormous energy hiring and apply, yet applicants cannot even get to the real recruiters's actual inbox. How can you build a relationship, if the real email address isn't even exchanged? And emails are already so easy!

A concluding story is a story that I like to share. At the local Women Who Codes group, Beth of Zoosk shared a recruiting story with us, when she used the word "expertise" "mastery" for a designer position and requires years of experiences, and tough skills, she wasn't getting any women applicants. And that just cannot be right, considering how many women are in design. Yet men, who clearly don't match the descriptions will continue to apply. Very much a  women not Leaning In issue.

She twigged the words to experiment and found that soon as she removed all these crazy criteria, she was getting super qualified women, who were previously deterred by the recruiting messages. If Zoosk has outsourced this recruiting process, they would never found out about these capable talents. Thank goodness, someone like Beth noticed and watched out for women!

Put on my everyday Economist hat, I will say that it is very clear why companies ask for all these skills. It's their own wish list, and they are not afraid of deterring away extreme talents, as long as they get a good proportion of cookie cutter capable but just not that creative and hard-to-evaluate candidates. They'd rather settle with that, than taking too much time looking and evaluating what is hard to evaluate : creative talents. 

This is hard to understand for candidates. Often fine capable talents are deterred by sheer landslide rejection, and after a while it is not possible to build the confidence! For women, I will definitely say, read Lean In by Shery Sandberg.  For employer, I will repeat : be open-mind and actually recruit and meet people, give them a real deserving chance.

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