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Potential

October 10, 2012

I love sports, and every year I’m amazed to see how many highly touted athletes, those picked early by their teams, fail to perform at a high level. Many of them go on to average careers, but quite a few fail out of sports within a few years, becoming just another person that didn’t live up to their potential. I thought this was mostly a sports-type phenomenon, but that might not be true.

Are employers and managers looking at potential as well? Do they see high scores in school, or glowing recommendations as reasons to hire a technologies? I think this was definitely the case a ten or fifteen years ago when there were few candidates and many open positions. Managers tended to view anyone with a certification as having the potential to solve any problem with their computing systems. That still might be the case in some areas today, but as business people become more technology savvy, they realize that there’s a substantial different between different platforms. We can’t assume someone talented in one area is an expert in others.

I think we are drawn to potential, often because many of us are optimists. We see the best in new ideas and people and want to believe they will succeed. I think this is also one of our problems in security because we see the potential benefits and don’t bother to look deeply enough into possible flaws. However as we are burned, and employment decisions burn many managers, we learn to look deeper at candidates and consider their past experiences, successes and failures, with an eye towards choosing someone that has a record of achievement.

Then there’s a cloud hype. That might turn all of these ideas upside down and bring potential back to the forefront. Maybe doing a little project on Azure or AWS will convince your next interviewer that you have the potential to build an application that scales like the Netflix video delivery systems.

Steve Jones


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