How the student becomes the master – Is raw talent a match for experience?
In ‘the old days’ many market towns around the country would have an annual day called a ‘mop fair’ or ‘hiring fair’. Usually, the days would involve a visit from a travelling funfair and a market, and they played a vital role in the history of recruitment. Apprentices, labourers, skilled and semi-skilled workers would gather on a particular day and employers would meet them and choose their staff for the coming year. Master craftsmen would choose the people who would go on to learn their trade.
Of course, they were looking for people to be shepherds or apprentice blacksmiths rather than Django developers, but part of the idea of these fairs was to bring keen workers to the attention of potential employers at a time when they needed new blood.
The reason I mention this is not because I had a sudden urge to show off a bit of historical knowledge, it is because it got me thinking about the difference between hiring an experienced operator or someone with the raw talent for a role. For employers and candidates, this is a choice that they need to consider regularly in the current market.
We operate in a business arena that is highly skilled
The IT workplace is not an industry where people can easily ‘pick it up as they go along’ because as a rule, it requires a very specific person to perform a specific function. However, it is also probably the fastest developing and changing industry in the world. The must-have platform or hardware development of today becomes the obsolete and deleted, or the scrap heap filler of tomorrow, at a pace that is unprecedented in any business arena in history. There was a statistic floating around the internet recently about how 60% of children currently in junior schools would work in jobs that as yet do not even exist. Whether that is an ‘internet truth’ or an actual truth I honestly couldn’t say, but it does demonstrate the point of how fast the job market changes these days, and the IT world is the fastest changing part of it. Clearly, where a very specific technical role is to be filled, then there is no option but to look for someone who has that particular skill-set. There are less defined areas, however, where a little flexibility may well pay dividends in the long run.
It’s a sobering thought that many senior managers now are probably running teams that have skills and talents that they themselves do not have, and in some cases did not actually exist when they started their careers. Experience and knowledge are clearly therefore still a prime requirement for a successful business. However, one cannot help but look at the skills gap and the need for constant change, and the benefit a keen, positive minded, individual can bring, and wonder if we shouldn’t give a little more time to the possibility of capitalising on that more.
A wider mix in the long run
In the long run, it may well be a viable option for IT businesses, particularly those in the forefront of development perhaps, to look to capitalise on a wider mix of experience and enthusiasm. Frankly, I am fairly sure that is preaching to the converted here because after all, this is an industry built on adaptability. The issue with implementing a more flexible approach to what constitutes the right candidate is integrating that with current skill-sets and finding the right person with the enthusiasm and attitude to make it work.
Because we have a wide perspective on not just the available candidates but also the wider context of the IT recruitment field, we are well placed to help you mould a cohesive but flexible employment policy that could well help you bridge the skills gap a little. Why not call us to discuss how we can help?
The mop fairs may only be a legacy of a past era now, but the principle of meeting the right people and allowing them to shine and develop is still very much a principle we can apply to the IT world.