Top Tier, A-Game Talent – How to Land em’

Recently the question came up from a close friend of mine, “will my PhD help me attain a higher income in the north west?”  I had to tell him, that it might get him a little more, but it won’t get him in the top income brackets for the occupation.  Another time, a few days later, someone else asked this too.  Then again, I see a job posting that requires a Bachelors Degree and some other nonsense.  The job posting even states they want “A-Game” talent.

I am almost shocked at how poorly part of this industry doesn’t realize how unimportant a degree (bachelor, doctorate, etc) is to getting real top tier, a-game talent.  (and yes, I get a little riled up about this matter)

You Can’t Make Good Software Developers.  No college out there is going to train someone to be in the top 10%, and absolutely not to be in the top 5% of skill levels.  Colleges can NOT do this.  It is up to the individual, and the individual alone.  If top tier talent seems to come from a college, one should check their premise and look at the motivations the individuals have to go to that school.  There is most likely a reason that top tier talent appears to be made there.  The college however, can only guide or assist, but I repeat that “top tier talent is a very individualistic endeavor“.

Some might say, well a group is needed, support is needed, this and that are needed.  True, an individual needs a support system and a college can provide that, but it generally ends there.  The support group helps, provides a sounding wall, and provides correlation to good ideas for the a-game top tier geek.  But again, the endeavor is the individuals desire.

top tier talent is a very individualistic endeavor – Me

Hiring Top Tier, A-Game Talent

There are a few things when trying to hire this level of game player.

  1. The first thing is to not require a degree of any sort.  Sure, it looks good, but it won’t dictate anything other than the individual was able to go through the regimented steps of college.
  2. List the skills and ideas that you would like to find in an individual.  Think of two people meeting for the first time, what do you want to know about the other individual.  Team fit is absolutely fundamental for top tier talent.  That support group that I mentioned above, top tier talent works best with a solid group of players.
  3. Keep your technology up to date, moving forward, and don’t bore your top talent if you manage to get it.  If the company slows down, they will leave.  The more valuable they find out they are, the lower tolerance they’ll have for this.  For managers, directors, and leaders in an organization this is THE challenge for them.
  4. Provide opportunities not just for advancement, but ways for them to advance their knowledge such as training, a book budget, or other means.  Even if some software they want to use isn’t used ton the project, get it for them (within reason of course ? couple $100 or even a few $1000 for a good software license to MSDN, Tellerik, or other suite of software is ideal).
  5. Don’t push them to, and don’t let them overwork themselves into burnout.  This, as a leader in an organization is easy to do if one finds themselves actually hiring top talent.  Because top talent just provides results and more results.  But they are human, they will break, don’t be the cause of that or you’ll lose your talent.

For now, that is it from me on this topic, back to the revenue, code, projects, and pushing things forward.

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