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Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:00 AM


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Thanks for bringing this article to our attention, Steve.

Among other good points, I think that the article hit one of the major challenges of IT; the 'moving target' of technology. A general 'instinct' for the machines is certainly valuable. A good instinct coupled with passion will make the difference between a worker who is good today and dated tomorrow. If the instinct and passion are joined with the ability to discern business needs, then get out the checkbook because someone with these qualities is worth a lot.

Can you measure these qualities completely with a piece of paper, whether a degree or a certification? No, of course not. On the other hand, instinct is difficult to measure objectively without a long standing personal relationship. People with any of the above qualities tend to set high goals for themselves and that often includes pieces of paper. A person without paper had better have some good (and current) references to show that they have a track record of acheivement.

I like the statement in the article that better managers are leaning towards developing talent internally, because that's a good way to develop the long-standing relationships needed to measure personal quality.


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“Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”
Post #538429
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:12 AM


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Good point! I always try to ask 'thinking' questions whenever I interview a candidate to get an idea of how they think.

Long-standing relationships are the way to go, whenever possible. it's impossible to know for sure after talking to someone for an hour or two how they'll do in a job.

I've intereviewed book smart people who knew all the answers but couldn't do the job, and vice versa... but it's good to find someone who is both book smart and has the knowelege to 'get the job done'.

Mark
Post #538444
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:27 AM
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It's why every IT department should have one or two openings permanently available in case someone that's really valuable comes along. Identifying that person can be hard, and to a large extent a hiring manager needs to trust the recommendations of his staff or friends at other companies, but when that great talent becomes available, you want to be able to secure it.


Sadly, as I've found from personal experience, this can be a dual-edged sword. I'm one of those "catches", yet a year later my company still doesn't know what to do with me. In the interim, I'm stuck in a position that utilizes only a very small part of my strengths. Frustration all around.

Yes, keep a slot open. But no fair catching a cat then expecting it not to yowl terribly while being shut in a wet cardboard box all day.
Post #538459
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:37 AM


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James Stover (7/22/2008)
Accounting says: IT = cost center.
Shareholder says: maximize profits.
CIO says: freezing wages; outsourcing 1/2 the team.

And I'm supposed to be enthusiastic about this?


When it comes to losing good people, absolutely NOT!

When it comes to an opportunity to shine, absolutely! You know as well as anyone that when it gets outsourced, it's going to come back with some really crap code in it and that it's going to hit "tipping points" where performance and scalability jumps right in the toilet. And, I'll just bet you and your team know how to fix it! AND, when you and your team do fix it, make darned sure that management is made fully aware of the before and after performance so that the next time they get a real case of ignorance going, you can remind them that IT isn't just a cost center... it's a value center! :)


--Jeff Moden
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Post #538471
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:43 AM


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jburkman (7/22/2008)
It's why every IT department should have one or two openings permanently available in case someone that's really valuable comes along. Identifying that person can be hard, and to a large extent a hiring manager needs to trust the recommendations of his staff or friends at other companies, but when that great talent becomes available, you want to be able to secure it.


Sadly, as I've found from personal experience, this can be a dual-edged sword. I'm one of those "catches", yet a year later my company still doesn't know what to do with me. In the interim, I'm stuck in a position that utilizes only a very small part of my strengths. Frustration all around.

Yes, keep a slot open. But no fair catching a cat then expecting it not to yowl terribly while being shut in a wet cardboard box all day.


Heh... I was in the same boat for 4 1/2 years... I would only occasionally be given something that really used the talent they hired me for... and now everyone knows why I have over 10,000 posts! :D Gotta keep my hand in it somehow!


--Jeff Moden
"RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for "Row-By-Agonizing-Row".

First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
Stop thinking about what you want to do to a row... think, instead, of what you want to do to a column."

"Change is inevitable. Change for the better is not." -- 04 August 2013
(play on words) "Just because you CAN do something in T-SQL, doesn't mean you SHOULDN'T." --22 Aug 2013

Helpful Links:
How to post code problems
How to post performance problems
Post #538476
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 7:44 AM
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Outsourcing hit the IT sector, just like manufacturing.

its based on the simple fact that living elsewhere is much cheaper. For the price of one developer, hire a 100.

Forget about quality, these people work in an invironment similar to where they breed chicken. So many companies are now realizing and regretting it.
Post #538478
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:29 AM
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Good article, Steve.

I have mixed feelings about certifications. It does give me exposure to features that I wouldn't get to try out otherwise.... I am more apt to study for a test and never take it, just to discover the tools that are out there and learn quick and concise ways to answer questions that I could be asked and need to answer immediately.

As a DBA who likes the development side of things, I spend a lot of time learning and trying things out to gain that IT Instinct. My company generally keeps people in silos, though, so I would never see a return in my current job, but maybe the next one that comes along.

I don't dwell on the possibility of losing my job to outsourcing or anything else. I'd rather keep an eye on the job boards to see what people want for skills and build those instead of trying to hang on until the next round of layoffs comes around.
Post #538507
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 8:29 AM


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IT is often seen as a cost center, but you can change that to some extent by becoming a strategic group that works to grow the business, increase opportunities, show other groups how to gain competitive advantages. Hard to get started sometimes, but work on small projects to show value.

Other than sales, all groups cost money without making any. Even the production lines (developers, guys building cars, whatever) are cost centers. Maybe they have better charge backs, but they're not generating revenue.

Slowly this perspective changes a bit as more and more people see how technology can enable things. Of course there are lots of "utility-like" pieces to IT. File storage, email, etc. are like telephones, electricity, and water. They have to work all the time.

Finding talented people takes effort, and as I mentioned, it often comes from relying on people you can trust. I'm sure we all know some really talented people and would instantly recommend them. If they don't get used, chances are they'll move on and someone else will take advantage of them.

It takes a good manager to recognize the talent under him/her and use it without wasting it. Unfortunately there are lots of not-so-good managers out there.







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Post #538508
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 9:11 AM
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I'm sorry, but I'm not really seeing anything new here. "Degrees and certifications are no indicator of quality." "We want team players." "We want flexible people." If they believe that degrees and certifications are not an indicator of quality, then tell their HR departments to stop asking for them. After HR burrows out from under the deluge of resumes and slaughters IT management, the new management will realize that these are filters. If they want team players, then treat their people with more respect. Throw some movie passes at them every once in a while, maybe even sponsor a happy hour at Applebee's and pick up the tab. If they want flexibility, don't mention outsourcing or off-shoring, don't expect your people to work 50 hour weeks on a regular basis, and don't cut budgets earmarked to upgrade crufty servers (our AS/400 box is 15 years old and I have one NT4 server running, along with I don't know how many Win2000 servers).

I'd like to see the author go to the web sites of the people they interviewed and see if their employment opportunities jibe with what they're saying.
Post #538549
Posted Tuesday, July 22, 2008 9:27 AM
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Wayne West (7/22/2008)
I'm sorry, but I'm not really seeing anything new here. "Degrees and certifications are no indicator of quality." "We want team players." "We want flexible people." If they believe that degrees and certifications are not an indicator of quality, then tell their HR departments to stop asking for them. ....


Alas, requiring certs is another part of CYA, especially in the hiring world where claims of bias or discrimination in hiring can be a legal minefield. It passes off much of the work of evaluating a prospect to a third party.

IT knowledge does not exist in a vacuum. More often than not, the IT skills you refer to are reflected in other aspects of a person's life and interests. Is this the type of person whose first instinct is to pick up a tool when something goes wrong around the house or the car? Is it the kind of person who is constantly reading, who is trying to improve their personal space (house, car, garden) through tinkering? Or are they completely passive, getting through, or wanting everything to be pre-packaged for them?


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