"HTP – Johanna Rothman, Management Consultant" - 5 new articles
I keep hearing about the “Skills gap.” There is no skills gap. There is a gap between what employers want to pay and what people are willing to work for. I read an article this morning that prompted this post: Talk of a skills gap in the labor market is ‘an incredible cop out’
Let me phrase this a little more elegantly:
There is a gap of cheap and skilled labor.
If you are willing to pay for training, there are many people who would gladly work for you. If you are willing to pay a reasonable wage for people who already have the skills, there are many people who would gladly work for you. (This is one of the reasons older people have a tough time finding a job. Employers want their experience at a new person’s wage. I wrote about ageism already.)
If you want to hire people will scarce skills and pay them an insufficient wage, you might think there is a skills “gap.” It’s not a skills gap. It’s wage gap.
What is wrong with hiring for—dare I say it—cultural fit, where people can be a part of the team you want them to contribute to, and then training them.
Let me walk through a scenario I recently encountered at a client. The client wants to hire a developer with 10-12 years of experience in embedded products where they use agile approaches, and not pay more than $100k. That’s a tight wage for that much experience. The cilent can find people with embedded experience. Everyone and their brother thinks they are agile, so there are plenty of those people. However, when the client interviews candidates at that wage level, the client realizes the people don’t really have either experience.
Why? Because the people interviewing don’t have 10-12 years of experience. At that salary, he’s seeing people with much less embedded experience and much less agile experience.
What should the client do?
First, understand why there is a salary cap when the job seems to demand a higher salary. I often discover the higher managers want to hire someone cheaper because they don’t see the Cost of Delay when that person can’t deliver fast enough.
I suggested these alternatives:
Now that you see these three options, I bet you can see other options for yourself.
This client walked through the numbers. If he increased the wage, and paid another $20k for a one-week workshop where people worked together on the product, he thought he might be able to integrate someone with the embedded but not agile skills in a month. (One or two weeks to buddy/mob, one week of training, another week of buddy/mobbing.) The entire team would work together for a month. That would bring the Cost of Delay down for their project, and they could expect to see millions of revenue in three months, rather than nine months. Yes, by hiring the right person and providing training, the manager thought they could see revenue much faster.
The training and salary was a small percentage of anticipated revenue. I can’t report back yet because the project is still ongoing. However, they are going to a pilot with the embedded software six months early. (!!)
Consider what the right person in the role can provide your organization. Maybe think about cost of delay instead of wage cost and you might see more options. I have yet to see a skills gap. I almost always see a wage gap.
If you do think you see a skills gap, what skills are you willing to train, to get the “perfect” person and team?
In the software industry, we toss around terms such as “Holacracy,” “meritocracy,” and “collaborative environment.” We claim to hire for skills. That’s not what I see.
I see hiring managers hiring people just like them (mini-me’s), people who went to their schools, make similar life choices, and are roughly the same age. That’s because these people talk the same way. Too many people call this “cultural fit.” No, it’s not. It’s hiring people you are comfortable with.
How can you tell if you are hiring for confidence or comfort?
I agree, it’s nice to be comfortable with people. And, you can get that comfort if you hire for capability. Hiring for capability will even get you to cultural fit. Here are some ways to know what you are hiring for:
What if you do some of these things, not all? Here’s how I see this work when people hire:
It’s easy to be wowed by a candidate’s confidence. It’s easy to look for someone comfortable, who might be just like you. It’s a little different to find someone with the capability to increase everyone’s throughput.
My friend and colleague, Jacob Share, puts together a list of the top job search articles each year. Yes, I have an article in there! See this ebook: The Top Job Search Articles of 2016. I hope you enjoy it!
The nice folks over at Paysa interviewed me and posted the interview at: Expert Interview Series: Johanna Rothman of www.jrothman.com.
I had a chance to wax eloquent about a number of topics: mistakes people make in recruiting and hiring, and the job search. Enjoy!
This morning, I read For Economy, Aging Population Poses Double Whammy (registration required). If you don’t read the WSJ, here are some interesting takeaways:
Notice this: Productivity peaks at age 50. 50!! (I actually know I am more productive now than I was 10 years ago. I bet there are people just like me, out there.)
In high tech, we love the shiny new object (people with a couple of years of experience). They are less expensive. They appear to know the latest, greatest thing (tools and technology). And, unless they are extremely mature, they do not have the perspective and emotional maturity that older people do.
If you want to increase productivity (throughput in software), hire older people who have been successful in previous roles. Here’s why:
Not everyone has all these qualities in the same amount. And, if you dare look for people over 50 (and over 60), you will find enough of these qualities that you will find a great employee.
Look for and hire someone older. If you need to, negotiate on salary. Remember, money is just one component of compensation. But, don’t think that the eager-beaver 20-something is the only person who will help you increase your throughput.
More Recent Articles