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You can not motivate a pig to fly ...

Like all of you I have read and heard the overwhelming fear-based projections surrounding the next or the X or Y generation and their seemingly consistent … attributes (to be fair).

I was recently made aware of an applicant for a development position that declined the opportunity to interview due to the dress code (business formal) of the potential employer. It reminded of “this” generation and what I see as their simple lack of maturity. It also reminded me of every generation and our tendency to be narcissistic at times. In fact, it reminded me of me.

Here was a position that represented a developers dream. Or, at least what I would have constituted as a dream when I actually did the fun stuff – writing code. The position? First, the position involved full horizontal involvement and responsibilities throughout the entire lifecycle from vision to scope to requirements to BPR to design to development to UAT to deployment. Secondly, the position involved full vertical involvement and responsibilities throughout the technical spectrum from data integration/EDI to reporting and OLAP/MOLAP to UI technologies (the latest by the way) to middleware SOA development to database design/development. The intersection of these competency paths is pure gold. I would have waited overnight in line for this position – or would I?

The fact is at different stages of my maturity I probably made equally bad decisions. You could not have made me fly until I grew wings. You could not have made me think until I learned reason. Sometimes, looking for Ms. Right is a futile effort until you become Mr. Right.

From Lebron to the board room everyone is efforting to master the ability to build and manage the highest producing team. One of its core building blocks just may be the simplest (as in straight-forward as opposed to easy) of all – developing the professional maturity of the individual.

4 comments to You can not motivate a pig to fly …

  • Tom R

    This is terribly arrogant and hypocritical. The candidate feels the dress code is a dealbreaker and you’re calling him narcissistic because you figure it’s a dream job so your dress code shouldn’t matter? If I’m selling a two-bedroom house, and all the current, prospective buyers are looking for three bedrooms, are they all immature for not wanting my house just because I think two is a perfectly reasonable number of bedrooms? Ridiculous.

    You guys offered a “developers [sic] dream” to a guy who turned it down over dress code. I’m betting your company wouldn’t have offered a dream job to someone who wasn’t fully capable of getting a dream job at another place with a more progressive dress code.

    You, as the hiring company, are the party that needs to become Mr. Right. Not the candidate. You, the company, are the one with the need to fill your particular position. Don’t assume, just because you have some “great position,” that the whole world should be begging at your doorstep and anyone who doesn’t is narcissistic.

  • Ahhh and so continues the ability for us to learn from each other – or at least my ability to learn from all of you. Good point Tom. And I will always take your advice to continue to improve myself, see the perspective of others and learn something from it and continue to strive to be Mr. Right. I doubt I will achieve it, but it is the pursuit that makes us all better professionals. Thanks again.

  • Mitch

    Perhaps your organization is blinded by it’s own policies.

    Did you ever consider what is more important to your company:
    Having the best possible employees who are highly skilled people who increase profits and drive up business?
    – OR –
    Having well-dressed employees who may, or may not, be the best person for the job, but have a nice wardrobe?

    With the job market now being truly global with work-at-home capabilities & hosted applications becoming ubiquitous across both employer & employee; you may need to bring your company’s policies into the 21st century to attract 21st century talent.

    Tell us…..was the *next* person you interviewed for that position as skilled as the person who declined?

  • Mitch,

    I find your comment funny. As a person who worked as the Enterprise Architect and Team Lead at the company in question, I am in a position to speak to both of those things.

    First, we absolutely found better developers than the one who turned down the position and hired several of them before the policy changed.

    Second, as I stated, the policy *did* change. The CIO was at the forefront of making that happen. But, when the CEO and COO of the company are “old school” individuals, you pick and choose your battles. We went from an antiquated technology stack because “a guy they knew” could do it to one of the most modern Microsoft technology stack implementations in the city.

    If they were Microsoft developers, they could have gone and done government work and work with seven year old versions of the technology at a snail’s pace. (BTW… The government has a strict dress policy, too.) Or, they could hope to join some of the other great companies in the city who were doing modern things. I happen to know that this developer in question stayed unemployed for a time and then took a job working in older technologies for the government. That’s fine, I don’t judge him for that. However, it does underscore the fact that I don’t think he got any of the things he claimed to want from a job during his interview.

    When I interviewed with that company, wearing a tie was also a turnoff for me. I had 2 other job offers in addition to the one at this company. For myself, I told myself that it was time to “grow up” and wear a tie for a season in order to work in that environment, with those people, and grow. I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today, career-wise, if I had chosen either of those other two jobs.

    In fall of 2010, the dress code went to business casual (and a fairly lax business casual at that). After that point, we never had another person decline due to dress code.

    Additionally, I think Mitch and Tom missed the point of the post. Ron is talking about maturity in decision making and saying from his vantage point now, he doesn’t understand why the person wouldn’t join the company (never did he say it was his company, btw). Upon reflection, he realized that he would have likely made the same kinds of decisions at that age.

    Let’s say that if you have two jobs: Company A with a great technology stack and a bad dress code and Company B with a bad technology stack and a great dress code. As a developer, I can tell you that if you choose company B solely on the dress code competition, you’ve made an immature decision. If there is a Company C with great tech and great dress code… by all means, go there. But in 2008/2009, I can tell you that those were rare or doing non-Microsoft things. It is all about perspective.

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