AntiPattern Name: DryWaterhole
You get into the habit of specifying stringent requirements for a job when it is not strictly necessary. Over time this habit spreads to other employers, and the pool of available talent dries up as lesser experienced people are denied the opportunity to get experience
- Ego: the perceived need to hire 'the best' for a job in your company
- A disinclination to spend time and money training staff on the job. It is, after all, a questionable investment.
- Laziness in investigating what a role really needs do be performed effectively.
- The use of employment agencies, who don't necessarily have a full understanding of your requirements, and who will tend to have their standard ways of specifying requirements in their advertisements
- A tendency to copy other strategies leads to a stock approach to a problem
Advertise for AnAthena
Related AntiPatterns: AnAthena
- There is no immediate problem, from your perspective: you end up hiring the best for a particular job, and it may well be that you really do need the best. (Of course, you may also find yourself paying top dollar for overqualified talent, but that's another issue.)
- The problem occurs when all employers are using the same tactic. IN these circumstances, only AnAthena will be able to get a role. Less skilled people, who may be able to do the job, will be denied training opportunities.
- Over time, natural attrition diminishes the number of athenas. The waterhole of suitable candidates dries up and a TragedyOfTheCommons ensues.
- One could argue that this is no more than the laws of supply and demand in operation, and that the stringent requirements will be relaxed as the 'waterhole' dries up. The problem is that, in the interim, a real gap has opened up between those who have experience and those who do not. It will take time for this gap to be filled.
Applicable Positive Patterns:
- Basically, stop being lazy! Staff hiring requires research to produce effective results.
- Think globally
- Start thinking of staff training as a necessary part of good corporate citizenry rather than an unnecessary overhead that will be wasted when staff move on. After all, if everyone does this, then the investment you lost with your last resignation will be picked up with your next hiring. What goes around...
- If the situation gets really bad, you may be able to save money by breaking the AntiPattern on your own. The cost of training may be more than made up, even in the short term, by hiring someone who has related experience but is not AnAthena and giving them a lower salary. After all, even if they move on from your company, they are then AnAthena and can charge a higher salary, so the opportunity to "apprentice" at your firm should more than make up for less pay. Of course, if they master the skills then stick around for a while, their salary should be raised to competitive levels, or you can count on them moving on sooner rather than later - but in the mean time, you will have saved money, and been a good corporate citizen as described above.
Also Known As:
Examples in the Literature:
This arose from considering the flip side of AnAthena
: the detrimental effect on companies rather than the (prospective) staff.
Examples in Practice:
At the time of writing (2004) the practices that lead to this situation are widespread:
- Check the IT ads on your local jobsite.
- See how alike they are in the specifications, even between different agencies.
- See how flexible they are in applying those requirements
At the moment, it is a buyer's market (ie the waterhole is fairly full). What happens over time remains to be seen.
Some passerby added:
you may also find yourself paying top dollar for overqualified talent(Though often times, many employers will try to attract top-tier talent with an average salary scale, and wonder why nobody wants to work there).
Fair point, and one I've tried to refer to in the main thesis. However, it's not the point being made here. If whoever it is wants to expand their theme on another page. It's a free wiki...
Some other dude said:
''This seems to be common these days in software. It seems that the escape valve is outsourcing. As the local talent pool seems to be small, and the representatives of the outside firms so professional. The crazy part is that when the work is actually being done, it's by the very people the original company couldn't be bothered to hire, but charging much more.
The company I work for falls into this trap frequently; I suggested one friend to work here as a junior programmer, but it was said that he wasn't experienced enough, even though everyone was complaining of a lack of junior programmers.
I suggested another person who everyone liked, but he was too expensive. As it stands now, we have few engineers.
We use outsourcers frequently, due to insufficient engineering staff but are usually unsatisfied with the quality of code they deliver.''