Now Hiring

When I was in school, I had a GPA of about 2.0. Teachers said in reports that I had neglected to turn in almost all of the work they assigned to me – a missing physics notebook, a missing English report, and in one case, a missing term paper. We’d been working on that term paper for two months, supposedly.

I spent my afternoons with the ultimate frisbee club I started with my friends. I spent my evenings on the computer. Can you picture me on the computer, my notes and books open next to me?  So I could pretend I was doing my homework?

Can you picture my parents getting these teacher reports?

My GPA was 2.0 from 3rd grade to 16th, so you can infer that I know almost nothing. I lose at every trivia game. My wife will pick up crossword puzzles, and I’ll just get out a book or check my blogs.

And yet, in the last 18 months I’ve formed a company with three employees, and single-handedly written a program that handles thousands of users and over 750,000 pieces of assessment data – scores and ratings and comments. All without knowing anything!

Here’s the thing: the technology we’re using to create ActiveGrade was released in 2008. Even if I HAD studied in school… I graduated in 2005.  Knowing things isn’t enough. Maybe, knowing specifics is less important than ever – if I knew more history I might back that up more convincingly.

ActiveGrade is hiring, and what will we put in the developer job description? We can’t require experience – the tools we’re using were invented three years ago, and a tiny fraction of the population knows how to use them. You all know how I feel about tests – I’m not going to hire someone based on a test score when I care about creativity, compassion, and hard work.

I want to hire someone with the things I got out of my childhood INSTEAD of knowledge: curiosity, fun, tinkering skills, trouble-shooting skills, communication skills.

Knowledge is A LOT CHEAPER than it was when we were in school. Casual Obedience is NOT THAT IMPORTANT. I hope that the grades we give out are not based on knowledge and obedience.  I hope we’re not misleading our children to think that obedience is our biggest goal.

3 thoughts on “Now Hiring”

  1. One of my brothers had a job interview with a company who wanted someone with practical knowledge of the application of their product. They only had theoretical people, and recognised this was a problem. They had been unable to hire anyone for this position for over two years.
    Speaking to them, they were very enthusiastic about his hands-on skills and experience, and it seemed like a good match. But before they went to hire him, they made him sit an extremely theoretical exam. And then they didn’t hire him. And my prediction is they will never hire anyone. All practical people just don’t have the theoretical stuff in their heads, they know to look it up or get the geek to tell them…
    I know, not very relevant to you, yet I want to say, good luck with finding the right person!

    1. One thing we’re interested in doing is hiring people on a probationary kind of setup – we’ll hire you for a month or so, full benefits, but without the particular expectation – either way – that this has been established as a perfect fit yet. I’m not sure how well candidates would be interested in that, but it seems like OUR best way to get a sense of the important attributes of a new colleague.

      I’m sure there will be blog posts about that, if we do it 🙂 Thanks for the comment!

  2. Your high school experience sounds just like my husband’s experience. It has helped bring me a better perspective as a teacher and challenged me to make my assignments meaningful. He always wins at every trivia game, though.

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