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On hiring in the 21st Century global neighborhood

Naked Conversations: Global Neighborhoods TOC v.01

I have been meaning to write this up for Shel for a while and keep putting it off. But he needs the content – so here goes.

I was talking to Cote recently, sitting in my backyard drinking a little white wine on a warm summers’ evening, looking up at the pears and greengages ripening on the trees. Cote’ was on the other end of the line – recording an episode of our podcast, RedMonk Radio. About 30 minutes in I suddenly realised Cote was talking about philosophy- wait I asked: “what degree did you do?”

This would be a fairly normal question, that is, it would be if we hadn’t hired Michael about six months before. I realised that neither I, nor my business partner Stephen O’Grady, had ever looked at Cote’s resume.

We didn’t need to. We had met him through his blogs and podcasts, called drunkandretired, and knew what he could do, what his skills were, and weren’t put off by the crazy name he chose.

One interesting thing is – while its ludicrously easy to fake a resume, its actually pretty hard to fake a blog, because sustaining a pretence over time is much harder than doing so with one static document.

Scoble puts it thus: “The jobs I’ll be hiring for require you to be a good videoblogger. Or, a good writer. Or a good developer. Or a good interviewer. Or a good blogger (not always the same thing as a good writer, by the way). Or a good podcaster. Now, how can I tell whether you have the skills to do ANY of those things from your resume? I can’t, especially since I’ve learned from Guy that many people pull MY leg on their resumes.

RedMonk is a very small company – only three full time employees, Cote included, which means we don’t need the kind of heavy processes an SAP or Fedex might have around the hiring process. We’re happy to be small, small being the new big. Another neighbourhood angle is how seldom we see Cote. He works from home and we have all been face to face perhaps once since hiring him. Three guys – Austin, Denver, London.

But big firms are changing too. A few days after I had the epiphany about Cote I was visiting SAP at its headquarters in Walldorf when I met Craig Cmehil (your business card is out of date, your old employer!).

Craig is one of the new breed of grassroots types SAP is attracting to its Netweaver ecosystem. He is actually a specialist in web development and dynamic scripting languages such as PHP. He had joined an SAP partner customer about 18 months previously, and been given a job monitoring some SAP R/3 instances. Naturally he used scripting, not just SAP’s proprietary BAPI language to build reports and interfaces. He became a regular contributor to the fast-growing SAP Developer Network (SDN). But then the SAP partner took the decision to lay off many of the staff. Craig was in a bind. His wife is German, he had new SAP skills, and no intention of going home to the US yet. So he sent a resume to SAP.

But here is where the story gets interesting. SAP, after all, sells heavily structured HR and “human capital management” processes. It eats its own dogfood. Someone however, saw the resume (they do have a value, of course), and realised that Craig should be joining SDN, rather than the job he was applying for. How did they know this? From reading his blog entries at SDN. So even SAP is subverting its own HR processes through blogs.

So RedMonk is hiring without resumes, while SAP is doing things differently too.

and we made an amazing hire in Cote – he is incredibly bright and productive. He has great technical chops, but is also a superb communicator. And he knocks his bosses into a cocked hat when it comes to documenting what he does (so much for developers being poor at documentation).

Oh that was the other thing- how many industry analysts come from a developer background? That is different too.

And on that note I should get on my bicycle and hurry home so I can see my son before bedtime.

I will tell you about my time off tomorrow

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3 Responses

  1. We happen to be talking to SAP as well, via a partner (the Georg Heeg Company) in Germany. They have a group exploring Cincom Smalltalk as a tool that interested parties could use in conjunction with NetWeaver.

  2. Touching tale, James. But the Global Neighborhoods question is: what if anything do you three guys lose by not having much face time?

  3. I never really gave it much thought but I guess blogging did get me to where I am today. Oh by the way James, you found my old user on SDN, th …



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