I'm always pleased to read new posts on Johanna Rothman's blog Hiring Technical People, as I feel there is a lot of noise around recruitment hers is a voice of sanity. Her latest entry on Initiative vs. Entrepreneurship seems to match perfectly with my experiences in my current role. In short she advocates hiring those candidates who demonstrate an entrepreneurial streak - whilst they may be a flight risk (leaving to set up on their own) the ideas and skills they bring in their time spent as an employee are often invaluable. Whilst this stance can often be a lightning strike to traditional thinking of a job for life in truth we now live in time that a "long term" employee is one that has been in the same job for three years! These are now our "old hands" this trend towards a patchwork CV increases in the technical sector and is further exacerbated by the peaks and troughs of an industry effected by technical discoveries as much as it is by financial market flux.
It's a fine line between demonstrating high levels of initiative and entrepreneurialism. It can be a particularly fearful one for an employer who feels the investment thay make in sourcing and courting a "high flyer" should be rewarded with at least x-years of service. I've harped on about the "Values" ThoughtWorks holds dear before but it took Johanna's post to make me see the thinking behind our - "Entrepreneurialism - Imagine and Pursue". Actively encouraging this spirit within our staff can do only good, and has led to some truly innovative tools and products being created. Whilst it maybe true that some of these people have left to go on to pursue their own interests it's certain that as an organisation as a whole we have certainly benefited from having those people as ThoughtWorkers. In taking those initial risks we have an alumni network that has aided sales and continues to promote ThoughtWorks as a standard of technical excellence at a global level - as evidence it was just yesterday I received not one but two referrals from one of our ex-employees. Sometimes it pays to stay in touch with your ex :)