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Capability-based Job Descriptions: Unicorn vs Unicron (2018)

Capability-based Job Descriptions: Unicorn vs Unicron (2018)

I gave this lightning talk at Code & Supply's Engineering Management first working group meeting on Building Job Descriptions (https://www.meetup.com/Pittsburgh-Code-Supply/events/250358603/). It was a series of talks followed by a roundtable discussion.

This is not necessarily a technical talk. I've used this approach to hire for non-profit boards and friends in other industries have since used it successfully, too.

High points:

* Select for capabilities, not years of experience
* Set expectations divided into four categories:
** Things the candidate needs to know when they walk in the door
** Things the candidate will be doing when they walk in the door
** Nice-to-have familiarities that you're willing to train on
** Things the candidate could be interested in, in order to show the future direction
* Beware of spending too much time looking for unicorns
* Beware of hiring a Unicron, that just eats everything and doesn't help anyone
* The best unicorns are the ones you built.

Colin Dean

May 23, 2018
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  1. Capability-based Job Descriptions Obsoleting “Years of Experience” one JD at

    a time @colindean
  2. Colin Dean @colindean Director of Software Engineering at arcadia.io

  3. Years of Experience

  4. Years of Experience

  5. Difficult to define what counts Time since first exposure? Months

    on a team where you were actively contributing to a project using a technology? Include internships? Hobby projects? Open source work?
  6. Inaccuracy Duration not necessarily indicate Experience, Maturity, Wisdom Correlation does

    not necessarily imply causation
  7. rant.truncate()

  8. Capabilities Describe expectations explicitly Avoid Herculean tasks

  9. Prioritize desires 1. Comfortability 2. Expected familiarities 3. Preferred familiarities

    4. Areas of interest
  10. Self-selection Some groups of people are less likely to apply

    if they feel that they do not meet all of the requirements Prioritizing and accepting that you might need to teach something lets you find diamonds in the rough
  11. Analogy Years of Experience : Capabilities Version Detection : Feature

    Detection People Browser
  12. Example part of a real job description: https://codeandsupply.co/job_postings/32

  13. You'll need to be comfortable interfacing with customers who are

    contacting you with any level of perceived urgency working in the full stack of the application, from on-premises binaries and JVM applications, to small web services, to large web applications. working independently as well as pairing with experienced engineers to triage and address customer issues, failing frequently and learning things from your failures,
  14. We expect familiarity with: Object-oriented programming in at least one

    language Reading lots of code for comprehension in languages with which you may not be immediately familiar. Debugging web applications, REST web services De-escalating situations and assuaging the fears of customers
  15. We'd love a candidate with familiarity with or interest in

    furthering knowledge of: Debugging command-line, native Windows and Linux applications Debugging web apps running on the Java Virtual Machine Ruby, Scala, or Rust programming languages Amazon Web Services Docker, Apache Mesos, and other similar containerization systems
  16. Things you could be interested in: HashiCorp Terraform Mesosphere PagerDuty

    Blameless retrospectives Leading the support team as a manager or tech lead as demand grows
  17. Unicorns are awesome But they’re excruciatingly difficult to find in

    the wild. You may burn a lot of time trying to find them. https://dumbledoreshotfirst.blogspot.com/2012/03/musical-monday-presents-unicorn-monday.html
  18. Unicrons can be devastating Beware of Dunning- Kruger when overstating

    requirements. “What kind of person are we attracting?” https://www.pinterest.com/pin/560487116098066817/
  19. The best unicorns are the ones you built.