In this article you'll read about: cost of desperation in IT recruitment, what's one of key requirements if you want to move "from good to great", what does Kent Beck think about bad programmers, why "just letting her/him go" is much more a big deal than one may think and what the word "recruitment" truly stands for.

I've actually planned to publish something completely different today, but we all know them - stubborn, relentless thoughts that just won't let you go until you share them with the wider public. So, here it is, one of them ...

IT job market went bananas some time ago. Everyone looks for some specialty of software engineers. All kinds of intermediaries, headhunters or outsourcers have their golden harvest these days. Developers, lured by more & more lucrative offers hop jobs every 6-12 months for a wage increase and/or new, eye-catching entry in their CVs. Companies get more & more desperate - with some visible outcomes that wouldn't have been seriously considered 6 or 12 months ago, e.g.:

  • "get me ANY developer you can get - Python, Java, PHP - I don't care - code is just code, we can have a 'microservice' in Clojure if needed!"
  • "motivation? teamwork? communication? f@ck it! does (s)he know basic syntax?!"
  • "I can see in the CV that (s)he worked in company XYZ before; if (s)he was good enough for them, (s)he's good enough for us!"

This is wrong, this is so very wrong.

You don't even have to trust me on that, trust the classic. One of the core principles in famous "Good to Great" by Jim Collins claims that:

"First Who, Then What: Get the right people on the bus, then figure out where to go. Find the right people and try them out in different seats on the bus (different positions in the company)."

Right people doesn't mean "people who worked well in some other environment" - each company is different, each one has a different culture, constraints, aspirations, goals, values, opportunities (that may or may not be attractive to particular people).

Right people means the ones who have a decent combination of 3 characteristics:

  • attitude - way of thinking, motivations, values & principles
  • aptitude - factual potential (intellectual & mental) to learn, adapt, accomodate & adjust
  • skills - already acquired (& confirmed) practical ability to perform certain activities

Yes, there's no doubt - it's VERY hard to get correct people on board, but contrary to some common (yet naive) belief, the cost of getting WRONG people on board & just letting them go (or pushing them to leave) tends to be MUCH higher than it appears (even if it's not that clear at first glance).

Broken culture (due to toxic behavior and/or failed promises/expectations that affects general trust), energy wasted on internal politicking, tarnished reputation (in a relatively small community), organizational or technical debt - these things do not only have a significant cost, they also are hard to repair!

Employing someone ain't just a short-term business contract - I'm not going to convince you that your work should be treated like a 2nd family: of course it should NOT! But when you're getting someone on board, you're asking for someone's time, effort & commitment - they do neglect other opportunities, concepts, offers that may be unique & may change their lives forever. Do not treat that lightly. Recruitment is probably the most important aspect of management, especially if you stop calling it that way & think of it more like a "team/unit building", "organizational growth" or "culture cultivation".

One single "bad apple" can spoil the whole chest of fruit. IMHO this metaphor truly captures the essence of potential recruitment mistakes.