March 1, 2006

What Have You Done for Me Today?

Almost all businesses today need an information systems or technology officer. Hiring good employees in this field is especially challenging for startup businesses because those hiring might not have much technical knowledge themselves. In this situation extreme caution is needed. In any type of hiring, you can get caught up in the credentials of a person. For example, you might read that someone is an MIT graduate, developed missile defense programs for the Air Force, etc. This can cause elation and often an impulse to immediately hire someone. This is unwise in any circumstance, and even more so in a technology hire.

First, step back, take a deep breath, and ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Does this person have experience in the same language/platform that my site or product is developed in?
  2. Is this person really a tech guy, or a glorified manager?
  3. What has he done lately?
  4. Does he fit well into my team?

Even if ten years ago the person was a superstar, that does not mean they can automatically be trusted to do the same thing in a different situation. Carefully evaluate each hire as you grow your team, because each one could potentially grow or severely damage your company. In a startup, one bad managing hire could potentially tank your company.