In Defense Of Being New

Caveat lectorem: You might disagree with what you are about to read. You might feel defensive. If you are in a human-centered profession, I know you are able to set that aside. If you aren't, try setting that aside.

Hey, Idiot.

Hire people who don't have experience doing the thing you need done.

As you might suspect … as I hope you suspect … the following is for people who are in a position to hire employees, contractors, and freelancers.

Hey, idiots!

“…hit the ground running.”

Nothing makes me roll my eyes as much as the sentiment, “We want to hire someone who can hit the ground running. That's why we're hiring someone in a senior position.”

No one hits the ground running.

Stop saying this. What you mean is, “We don't want to have to train people to do the job.”

Except, of course, there's some level of training involved with every new hire. That's why you have an onboarding process. Unless you don't. Then you must really hate your employees. Everything your company does is similar to what other companies do. Except where it's not similar. Your new hires will need to be trained.

No which experience?

Because of how I live my professional life, I meet a lot of people who are new to the human-centred disciplines. “So-and-so said I needed to meet you,” is often the intro of the email from them. Said with as little ego as possible, I am a leader in the HCD community in Portland. As such I get a lot of “I want to do what you do tell me how.”

Always happy to have chats like this. So I can warn them that it's the best and worst profession to get into. Looking back over my calendar for the past couple of years, I've talked to 23 people about this. And that's just the 1-on-1 chats. It doesn't include talking at events and such.

More than half of the people on this list have been working in their professions for more than 10 years. A couple of them have closer to 20 years of experience. 21 of the 23 people, regardless of their qualifications, are people I'd hire if I was in a position to do so.

Y'all're missing out on some highly capable and dedicated people because they don't have “bullet point number 2 experience.”

“Posted 2 Days Ago…”

I keep track of jobs in the human-centred professions. I get emails every day about new jobs. I look at the lists multiple times a week, just to keep an eye on things. I've noticed that you're job posting, that the job site says was posted 2 days ago, is the same job posting that's been on that site for almost a year now.

What's up, buttercup? Looking for the perfect person? I mean, sure, why not hope for that. But, really, I want to know: what is up with this?

Hire someone or pull the posting. Assuming it's a real job, my guess is there's work that needs doin' that ain't gettin' done. What's up with that? Hire someone. Maybe hire someone who doesn't have an answer to all the bullet points in the job description? Maybe hire someone who has 20 years of experience getting shit done, but who isn't a UXer.

I don't get it. I really want to understand. I assume some of it is the person hiring doesn't know what they are doing. Actually, I don't have to assume that. I know this is the case. I just this week found out that a manager left a local company and the team is trying to pick up the pieces of the mess that was left behind. I'd met with him and could tell from our conversation he was a terrible leader.

These are the people getting in the way of doing the right work well. Of course, it isn't everyone, but it's too many people.

So ... if you are reading this and think, “Why haven't we filled that position,” maybe it's time to petition those in charge of hiring to think more broadly about who would best fit.

And if you're thinking, “We need to hire smart people,” well let me tell you: I know a handful of people who can waltz into pretty much any situation and turn it into something positive for all involved. And most of them are being looked over because of the lack of bullet number 2 experience.

C'mon, y'all!