August 04, 2017
“We just want someone who can hit the ground running” is the common refrain for companies seeking to only consider senior-level job candidates. This is usually based on the premise that there just isn’t time to hire someone junior because they need on-boarding, training, and mentorship.
That’s all true. You shouldn’t expect a junior hire to immediately perform at the level of your existing company veterans. Everyone instinctively knows and accepts this.
Where instincts clash with reality is when hiring senior-level people. There’s a natural assumption that someone who was already, say, a lead programmer or designer in their past job will be able to step right into that role anywhere. That just isn’t so. Organizations can differ widely. The skills and experience needed to get traction in one place may well be totally different somewhere else.
I shared this post from DHH because I’ve seen this so often when you start at a new company, especially the last two paragraphs:
Getting the traction that someone would expect of a senior-level hire depends as much on general skills as it does on particular organizational compatibility. But because there’s an assumption that senior-level people should be able to just “hit the ground running”, there’s a bigger risk that expectations won’t be fulfilled quickly enough.
The fact is that unless you hire someone straight out of an identical role at an identical company, they’re highly unlikely to be instantly up to speed and able to deliver right away. That doesn’t mean a particular opening might not be best fit for a senior-level person, but it shouldn’t be based on the misconception of immediate results.
No two companies are ever the same, something is generally different at each one. Maybe they use Jenkins to handle deployments and testing, or maybe Travis, or maybe CircleCI or maybe CodeShip, or maybe it’s something home brewed.
Same with coding, every company has their own way of handling code, handling projects, handling tasks. Sometimes that can vary just between projects and teams alone. So when someone new starts at a company, give them a little runway.