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Monday, June 4, 2012

Lack of Scarcity Power

No CV Required

I have bad news for you. You are not unique! You are also not scarce!  Stop sending me your CV. It is a useless document that is doing nothing for your talents, skills and experience. It simply won’t get you hired! You should have discovered this by now. 
Most CV’s are not worth the paper (file) they are written on! If your CV gets more than five seconds of attention from a prospective employer or recruiter, you are one of the fortunate few. 
Something has seriously gone wrong. Good I.T. People seems to not get access to good I.T. jobs, and I.T. employers constantly complain about a lack of good I.T. people. What is the problem? I argue that you have lost your scarcity power!
Scarcity and Demand

I.T. people’s CV’s are like spam in an inbox. It clutters. 
After a while you get so frustrated that even the good messages are deleted with the cluttering spam. The content of I.T. Professional’s CV’s are so similar that one finds it difficult to differentiate between candidates. It is becoming harder and harder to spot the better candidate. Is he a developer, designer, project manager? Judging from most I.T. CV’s, it looks like the candidate can walk on water, and make rain too. 
This should make you worried, shouldn’t it?
Let me explain: As industry’s Professionals we have a serious problem. For many years this industry’s Professionals thrived on Scarcity Power. This scarcity power is fast disappearing. I.T. skill was scarce. It still is, but I.T. Candidates are now plentiful. 
Twenty years ago, computers were difficult to program and and costed a lot of money to manage. To implement computer systems required outstanding talent. Post graduate qualified professionals were the engineers that designed, implemented and programmed these beasts. They were in short supply, and demand was high for highly qualified I.T. talent.
This scarcity was shattered by a bunch of college drop-outs that experimented with electronics, and founded the Apples and Microsofts’ of the nineties. Talent was still in short supply. Instead of the needed post graduate qualifications, matters became easier. More people that are lesser qualified participated in the programming and creation of the system and solutions on these platforms. They were easier to use, and personal computing was accessible to almost anyone that took an interest. However, instead of qualifications, you had to be part of the club to stay up to date with the latest. The latest had a tendency to change fast, and keeping up put you in demand.
Suddenly, a college dropout can do a few basic courses, enter the employment market within months, and earn more than most professional people.
The rapid growth of the industry created more demand than the industry could supply for the skill of the day. There were more and more platforms invented and everything in this industry accelerated and exploded. The demand for skilled and knowledgeable people grew dramatically. With every new systems and platform, a new skill was required. If you picked the right technologies, and were early in familiarizing with it, then you were almost guaranteed top dollar as I.T. Professional!
With Year 2000 looming and at the peak of the DotCom bubble, almost all you needed to be able to do was spell JAVA and you were paid a $100,000 + a year. Many I.T. people changed jobs two to three times a year, and it was not unheard off that they doubled their incomes with every move. College was out. The sooner you entered the market with some specialist skill under your belt, the sooner you earned beyond what most dreamed.
This was further exploited by software organizations that built proprietary technologies. This was mastered by a few corporate funded trainees. This scarcity of skill virtually secured premium consulting fees for the company and high salaries for their “consultants”. It casted the users and operators of their systems in an elite that were well protected with certification after certification and subtle platform changes to ensure you had to come back for more and more training. 
I.T. skills were in demand. Let me correct myself: I.T. Platform and Tool knowledge were in demand. No one really paid any attention to the skills part of the equation. As long as you knew the syntax and the tools you were considered competent. 
The result was that projects were (and still is) poorly executed. I.T. Departments were (and still is) poorly organized. Poor quality software were released on the market. Ridiculous solutions were funded, and everyone appeared to be printing money in I.T.. If it didn’t go as planned, the technology was always to blame, and the standard solution for this problem was more and more funding. 
Times have moved on. Y2K was a non-event. The DotCom bubble bursted. Technology is becoming simpler, cheaper, faster and platforms more generic. Open-source initiatives are making top quality solutions for “free”. School kids are building systems in their bedrooms in their spare time, on systems larger than most mainframes from the seventies. 
The stronghold of big enterprise players like SAP, Microsoft, Sun and Oracle are challenged by the next generation of open-source Garage Geeks and Web 2.0. 
Only, these kids don’t learn it at University or College. They no longer need certifications or certificates to do what they do. Instead, they are growing up with it, and learning it from their mates after school (the school system can’t keep up). They speak HTML better than they formulate English grammar. PHP is more fun than reading books, and JAVA and SQL is just what you need to know to hang out with your friends. 
They have their own websites and online stores where they trade exam papers, pictures, music and publish their Blogs, Podcasts and feeds. Their cell phones have more processing power than the PC’s of the early nineties. 
To make it worse. If you are still a dinosaur with your COBOL, C++ and PL*SQL, then India and its outsourcing is fast ensuring that you will soon be merely one of millions fighting for the next cheap contracting job. You will be left standing in line with a few hundred other applicants with similar CV’s fighting for the last few jobs remaining in legacy country. 
Our scarcity power as I.T. Professionals are diminishing fast, and our CV’s are not helping.
If a school kid can hack the government’s systems and a another few threaten the telecommunications and entertainment industry with simple peer-to-peer applications, then it is time that we seriously ask the question: “Can anyone in I.T. still seriously be considered a ‘Professional’ for knowing JAVA or C#? Surely, this is now merely an entry ticket. You need something more to make the grade. You need I.T. Professional Competence.” 
I.T. Professional Competence

As I.T. Professionals we are increasingly forced to find other ways for justifying why Professional A should be hired over Professional B. Platform and Tool knowledge no longer differentiates you from the next candidate. That is also why you CV that lists your technical knowledge no longer attracts the same interest from prospective employers and recruiters. They are looking for the next thing and for more about you. 
Scarcity Power is a a concept economists use to explain a primary competitive advantage of a business. In simple terms, if you have demand for something that is scarce, and you have that scarcity within your control, then you have the opportunity for margin. As long as you have something that is scarce, and someone else want, then you have great opportunity to demand a premium. 
During the eighties and nineties your scarcity as I.T. Professional was locked into you tool and skills knowledge. The industry required people with knowledge of a tool or technology, and there simply were not enough around.
Many I.T. Business also could, and still can only justify their existence because they have skill available on scale, instead of their competitor. Because these businesses have the people with the right skills, they are in business. This is starting to change for them too.
Your Next Competitive Advantage

The challenge is on to no longer only have the required tool and technology knowledge, but also to have a solid grasp of your role within the I.T. Industry. You need to know and be outstandingly competent at how you fit into the I.T. machine.
The specialist Analyst, Designer, Manager and Administrator will poses the scarcity in future. They will, and already are commanding premium remuneration. Their abilities goes beyond tool and technical knowledge, but includes role competence aligned with their key talents and personal strengths. 
They know not only how to conduct themselves within the standard I.T. business processes, but is material in defining and advancing the niche knowledge base of these processes, and how to act within them collectively with other I.T. Professionals. They provide business outcomes, instead of technical activity.
More and more businesses are realizing that the true value from an I.T. business comes not from the potential of value that is locked into I.T. Professionals as individuals, but it rather comes from the way in which these Professionals are structured, organized and managed around basic industry process frameworks. 
It is how the team is playing that defines the success, not the smartness of the individual. Your I.T. Professional competence will attract the interest of future employers and progressive I.T. Organization, and your skills in a particular technology or solution will be a secondary consideration.
It should then come as no surprise that this competence is not something the average school kid that is hacking a PHP program, possesses. I.T. Role Competence takes years to develop. Until now, the only sure way to do it is to learn through bitter experience and have access to true mentors that are at the top of their specialist game. 
Your CV

In this organization, we have taken a different path to the traditional CV. We have designed and implemented one of the more advanced and complete online Professional profiling applications. It is not just another online form asking for your skills. Rather, it is using profiling, assessments, interviews and more to showcase your talents.
From the above it should be obvious why we decided that we want to know more specific attributes from you the I.T. Professional. Our clients appreciates that there is a fundamental body of knowledge about an I.T. person that is not communicated by a standard CV. This knowledge is becoming more and more fundamental in their hiring decisions.
As long as you stick with your traditional CV, you will be part of a pack of undifferentiated and easily accessible pool of skills and technical knowledge. If you advance your CV and in additional include a online Professional profile, then you should increase your chances of being spotted by forward thinking I.T. Organizations on their hunt for top talent.
I stopped reading CV’s. I am now interested in distinguished I.T. Professionals. So have my clients. We just don’t find talent in CV’s anymore.
Come and join us in redefining the game, and ensuring that top I.T. talent remain scarce and in demand.
Hendrik van Wyk

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