A conversation about hiring talents

Last August on the airplane back to Pittsburgh from a conference in Japan, I sat next to a Jeff Moore, a hiring manager from a large U.S. software company in California. After a casual conversation, he told me about his innovating way of finding skilled workers.

He said: “We have known for a while that there is a technology workers shortage. But until recently that shortage is bigger than we have expected. Today hiring skilled workers is a significant challenge for all companies, because if you do not have enough workers, you cannot grow. In this globally competitive environment, if you cannot grow, you cannot compete. My job is finding these skilled workers, that is why I go to Asia and hire whoever I can find. The problem is most graduates do not have the skills that I need. They all have degrees, but could not do anything. As I review their training, I found that many dated back ten or even twenty years ago. Some are a copy of a “Coding boot-camp” or “Programming workshops” similar to what we teach in U.S. high school.”

I was surprised: “That is something I did not know.” He continued: “Even today, many college students spent the entire four years just to learn coding and testing. That was the types of program that we used to teach in the 60s and 70s. But things have changed, coding is now taught in U.S. high school and soon in elementary school, but in these countries, they are still teaching the same thing for many years without updating. Many teachers were trained back then, and that was what they knew, there is no teachers retraining, so their students are learning from old materials.”

I asked: “In that case, what do you do?” He explained: “My challenge is finding talent, so I am looking for people who are self-learning. I am looking for students who learn from MOOCs, and other online courses to keep up with the latest developments in the industry. I am looking for people who can apply what they have learned to solve problems and people who know what they need and why they need these skills. I am looking for people who read well, who know what is going on in the industry and stay on the cutting edge of technology. ”

I asked: “How do you find them?” He laughed: “The sad fact is the majority of students still believe having a degree will get them a dream job. They do not read much but just follow what the school tells them. The fact is these countries have a lot of unemployed graduates, many of them have a degree in Computer Science and Information Technology but do not have the skills. Some blame the school, other criticize the job market, but nothing in their studying can teach them how to respond in that situation. For the past few years, I have seen two kinds of people: Those who gave up and abandon their dream and those who take action to realize it. I need graduates who can fix their lack of skills by taking additional classes to achieve their dream. I need people who look forward to the next opportunity to prove their skills. To find them, I advertise many positions on Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and WeChat. Many students do not know how to keep their profile up to date on those social media. I find a lot of candidates in these social media and contact them for an interview.”

I asked: “So you find them instead of they find you?” He laughed: “Yes, I often find them first. I read their posting; I read all their chat, I read what they say and what they read when they share with friends then contact them. I do not ask for degree or resume because I have all the information that I need from these social media. This is a new game, and not many hiring managers know about this new way of finding talents. As they still advertise on newspapers or go to universities and interview graduates, I am actively looking for the hidden talents with or without the degree. Today it is the knowledge and skills that are important, not the degree because I am very disappointed with their archaic education system.”

I asked: “So how successful are you?” He nodded: “I have hired thousands of workers in the past few years. My company has offices in multiple countries where I can put them to work then select the best and bring them to the U.S.”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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