Jun 18, 2014

noun: fast track; plural noun: fast tracks

1. a route, course, or method that provides for more rapid results than usual.”a career in the fast track of the civil service”

verb: fast-track; 3rd person present: fast-tracks; past tense: fast-tracked; past participle: fast-tracked; gerund or present participle: fast-tracking

1. to accelerate the development or progress of (a person or project).”the old boys’ network fast-tracks men to the top of the corporate ladder”

The above definition is from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.

Today’s market demands that we move at the speed of light. Competing for Java Engineers with big-data experience or Marketing Specialists with chocolatier backgrounds means you have to tag them first. In order to be first, we sometimes pursue the low hanging fruit instead of finding, grabbing a ladder, balancing, and reaching for the fruit at the top of the tree.

In today’s candidate market it’s essential to be the first to find candidates. Quick searches in LinkedIn, skimming (not reading) the short summaries of candidates searching only for the top schools or innovative trendy companies that are sure to please the hiring manager it’s a solid strategy. After all, by definition, since the fruit is hanging low, it’s easy to see if it’s ready to be picked and easy to grab. But at least once a week, slowing down to find a ladder and reaching for the high-hanging fruit might help you win the race.

While searching for an Applied Researcher-Recommendation Engine (hybrid AI researcher and OO-Developer) I came across this profile.


The speed demon in me may have assumed he wouldn’t be worth my time for the following reasons:

  1. He’s not accepting messages. I would have to find a ladder to reach this fruit.
  2. I don’t recognize the college. Again, I cannot easily see if it’s ready for harvesting. Thus, I would have to find someone to hold my ladder ie work to research the school and find out if it has a solid science program.
  3. He majored in Physics. The fruit is beginning to look a little bruised from this angle – can he code?
  4. His title is “Music Discovery”. What does that have to do with AI or OOP?
  5. Spotify is trending really high so this candidate will not even consider leaving – sour grapes?

Luckily, I spotted this apple on the day I look for my ladder and really reach for the high-hanging fruit. Imagine my glee when I read:

First and foremost, he’s a “developer at heart”, my hiring manager’s exact words in the intake meeting. Second, he’s built a recommendation engine from the ground up. Not only has this candidate been programming for 20 years, but also has AI (machine learning) experience. This apple is looking better and better. And I can see how to reach this apple – “released some open software”. This means I can find him in GitHub and easily get his email, he’s even nice enough to share his GitHub account. And since he invented Luigi, at some point, he presented. I should be able to find his information via SlideShare.

Finally, I find crumbs to follow as to what works best to reach this him. I did a Google Search, and came across his blog sharing his philosophy on recruiting:

I think most people in the industry are fed up with bad bulk messages over email/LinkedIn. Ideally, the hiring manager should introduce themselves, or for more senior roles having more senior people reaching out (all the way up to the CTO). If a recruiter is reaching out, it’s super important to make sure the recruiter can reach out to people with a quick note on what’s interesting about the team and why it’s a good fit.

So basically I follow his advice. I send him a short note asking to allow me to schedule a 20 minute chat with the Sr. Director. After quickly talking to me about the position, he agrees to meet with the hiring manager, which is easily done since this apple is hanging literally across the way from our location (our offices are neighbors).

In today’s market, we have to move at the speed of light and cannot afford to reach for high-hanging all the time. At the same time, in today’s candidate market we have to slow down since we cannot afford to only pick the low-hanging fruit. So set at least a couple of days a week to find your ladder, balance, and really reach for that high-fruit.

image credit: bigstock

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