Tech hiring has always been deeply influenced by the latest buzzwords. Given the nature of the high-tech industry, what’s hot and what’s not keeps changing swiftly and suddenly. It’s not for nothing that this sector has become globally renowned for its legendary disruptions in diverse domains. For the foreseeable future, though, the hot clicks are definitely AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning) and IoT (the Internet of Things) as well as allied horizontals such as 5G, Big Data and Deep Learning. Understandably so, since these are expected to be the next big transformational drivers of change in the way people live and work, their impact covers a vast canvas.
Therefore, it’s not surprising that at all the top IITs this year, and in most resumes from experienced candidates, there are references to having worked in, or having expertise, or (at the minimum) interest in these areas. What however has not changed so much – and yet still has – is the sauce that spells success.
Knowledge is still a strong foundation but it needs to be in-depth and sound, right from first principles and at the system level. In today’s world, there are multiple tools, APIs (application programming interfaces) and SDKs (Software Development Kits) that enable even those with the basic knowledge to build great looking, well-performing applications that would have been considered complex years ago.
Although basic knowledge is sufficient if that’s what the job is all about, it’s certainly inadequate if the requirement is to create, innovate, ideate, and question. Even more so, if the position requires one to lead and inspire.
Hiring for AI and related fields requires “real” intelligence. This means having the intelligence to comprehend from vast arrays of data and information and, most importantly, imagine scenarios that are not even virtual reality today. Even more important than ever before, it requires learning agility. Going by the frenetic pace at which technology is changing, there cannot be any “resting on one’s laurels”. Perhaps the most important of all is a sense of curiosity and humility, perhaps the two factors that I would personally think are the most rare to find. Curiosity to know more and more about more and more (not less and less) and the humility to understand both one’s own limitations as well as to be able learn from others.
In this context, hiring the right talent for these domains assumes added significance. Hiring tools using data analytics and social intelligence associations will certainly help in reducing the burden of searching and shortlisting. It also greatly helps in segmenting the potential hires across various aspects such as experience, roles, geographic location, skills and background. These algorithms also help in predicting whether a person will fit a company’s culture. However, passion, persistence, perseverance, a relentless drive to seek answers and being quick to grasp new concepts will be qualities that will be valued and critical for this field as well.
Interestingly, there have been numerous opinions about how these new domains will make many jobs redundant. Indeed they will, but only for those who refuse to go one up on their current level. This has a critical impact on not just the importance that people must accord to their learning, but also on organizations in terms of how they enable learning and provide time, space and infrastructure to facilitate learning and skilling among employees. The best companies of tomorrow will do just that, help their employees learn, and grow.