Hunting Unicorns - Buzzword Compliant Search
Posted by: Michael A. Morell
POSITION REQUIREMENTS: Scale, Agile, Rockstar, Big Data, Hadoop, Mint.com, Big Company Experience, Field General, Facebook Connect, Visionary, Board Presence, Mobile, Virtual Goods, Track Record, Freemium, Great Recruiter, APIs, Pivot, Cloud, AWS, Cross Platform, Game Changer, Lean Engineering, World Class, Athlete, 24x7, Entrepreneurial, Hands-on, SaaS, Product Sense, NoSQL, iOS, Android, HTML5, Ninja.
In my 10+ years of executive search, never have I seen so many people asking for these prerequisites, skills and traits as part of their VP Engineering position requirements. However, what I often don't hear is: 1). What is it that they actually need for the role to accomplish the job; and 2). What is it that we should really be looking for?
It is very easy for CEO's to jump on the bandwagon and attempt to develop a position description that shrinks the available pool of prospects to near zero and then send a recruiter off to find the proverbial "Unicorn."
I think that without much argument, when you break down what makes a great engineering leader, it comes down to a few very important characteristics that trump all buzzwords.
- Are they respected by others; do other great engineers follow them from job to job; and do engineers they interact with, feel smarter after speaking with them?
- Have they been at a company that has done interesting things, solved complicated problems and developed a great engineering culture?
- Have they dealt with rapid growth across multiple vectors, including increased customer base, data sets and growing teams?
- Can they get passionate about the problems they are trying to solve and can they motivate others to become just as passionate?
History and Potential are best predictors of success...so let the market validate future leaders for you...not the latest buzzword search string.
Posted by: Dirk Cleveland
Spring is here, the Giants are getting ready to take the field at AT&T Park and the buzz around the Bay Area start-up community is as loud as I've heard it in my three years here on the west coast. Where else would anyone involved in the technology industry rather be than right here, right now?
The buzz is being created by the goings-on of e-commerce, greentech, cleantech, the cloud, big data, gaming, social, rich media, curated content and portable devices. Deal flow for venture firms is picking-up and angel investors are establishing a presence causing entrepreneurs to rethink the traditional approach of obtaining funding. Liquidity events for start-ups are starting to become as commonplace as Groupon daily deals, whether it be via acquisition or filing an S-1 to IPO. We find ourselves in a race for talent with most companies; regardless of size, all in agreement that hiring is the number one priority for their business. Compensation for the best and brightest employees is rising by the quarter. Heck, leaders of the tech community are even hosting President Obama for dinner!
Of course my view is shortsighted; I acknowledge that I have not seen multiple Silicon Valley economic cycles in-person. On any given day, one typically does not have to look too hard to find news detailing the omnipresent signs of a looming tech bubble and how the activities of today resemble those of a decade ago -- here is today's example. However, in my role as an executive recruiter who regularly meets with clients and candidates in the Valley-based startup arena, I am given insight into the pulse of many of the area’s companies and leaders within them. Most, if not all, are cautious but remain quite optimistic.
Speculative daily headlines aside, I feel fortunate to be part of the Bay Area start-up community during this time and so should you. Whatever part you play in the ecosystem, you have helped in one way or another get us here by creating the environment before us. Look around, listen, soak it in and enjoy it for a moment. After all isn't this what we have all been working so hard to get to?
Okay.. Now let's get back to it. There's more work to be done!