Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

A Startup Issue: The Talent Crunch.

Posted on: February 14, 2008

If you are a startup and are using one of the rare and well-known (oxymoronic?) platforms as your development platform, you’ll most certainly know what I am talking about. If you think I am talking about some strange and indeed rare platform like IRIX, or someone with the talent to write code in LISP, nope that wasnt it. I am talking about a little more well-known platform such as Python or Ruby. Let me tell you the story.

Most of the startups these days seem to be working on either Ruby or Python. If you ask about the developer base for this platforms, it is much smaller than demand. I’ve been on both ends of the phone in calling up people looking for such talent and on the receiving end of calls with people asking if I know of people who are available for hire. Quite honestly, I picked python as the development platform for one of the ventures that I am closely working with and I am kinda dreading that choice since one of the three developers is planning to quit soon. I don’t seem to be alone in this.

According to my teacher’s definition, Inflation was defined as “too much money chasing too few goods” and that principle more than applies here. Python/ruby coders are today quite a valuable asset. That is not going to be for long, so I hope nobody reads this and plans their lifelong career on that direction, but its going to be tough while it lasts for the startups.

There is one thing which is very clear about this. There is definitely a dearth of python/ruby coders. So if you are under the illusion that in some corner of the country there are an army of python coders and its just you who hasnt stumbled upon them, well you might be high on something. It might be time to face the facts. There is only one way out of this. You are gonna have to train people from scratch.

I am wondering and even had this discussion with some of the friends who are running startups. Would it make sense for each of the startups to pitch some money in and conduct a week long workshop to figure out which of these blank slates would make for a good hire?

The idea is that a combined effort and not “actually” hiring someone, but just training people lowers the risk of making a bad hire and then having to go through that awkward “letting go” phase. Also with so many people involved in the workshop, it not only gets your communications strengths out, it also allows for these batch to experience a diverse set of coding habits, that the exposure will eventually cling onto their style as well.

The issue with freshers seem to be:

1. Lack of Knowledge
2. Lack of Programming habits
3. The risk involved in hiring a blank slate

It might not at all be a bad idea to do one of these workshops. Of course the companies that are pitching in the money to conduct this need to ensure that:

a) Everyone involved sets the rules straight so that they all get equal opportunity to hire the batch.
b) No one else steps in from outside and plucks these candidates out with ease
c) The candidates dont believe that they are all gonna get hired. Well, the lazy ones will drop out before the 10 day period is over in most cases.

The good part in all this talent crunch is the availability of languages that are easier to learn. Thank God that Python/Ruby isn’t that hard to pick up. Imagine explaining “pointers” to someone over a weekend. Ahem.

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3 Responses to "A Startup Issue: The Talent Crunch."

[…] with solutions that do make sense and would work. The only issue is that since most of them have a problem hiring, and a much bigger issue validating the concept and running the pilot that they end up building one […]

[…] with solutions that do make sense and would work. The only issue is that since most of them have a problem hiring, and a much bigger issue validating the concept and running the pilot that they end up building one […]

[…] Discussions from Before: The Talent Crunch Issue. The Startup Lunch Initiative The Economy: The Case for Startups Working for a Startup. A […]

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