Engineering Work

Recruiting In An Emerging Age Of Makers

I’ve started reading resumes from the bottom up.

What does this mean? It means I’m looking for passion. It means I’m looking for interest. It means I look for people who do electronics for fun. It means that classroom experience–while important–is not getting you the job. In fact, quite the opposite. If you’re spending all of your time in the classroom, how useful are you? Yes, understanding the basics are important. But if you’re going to quote me an equation you learned instead of going out and soldering and desoldering components to a board, how will I know that you’re a legit worker that is willing to get their hands dirty? (solder-y?)

Thanks to the global economy, no job is secure anymore. OK, we can handle that. But in an increasingly independent work force, we’ll see more contract work and less (yes, even less than current levels) loyalty to corporations. As such, the recruiting (and hopeful retention) of talent will become one of the most important jobs. Innovation will now be negotiated for and fought for instead of attempting to induce it in a laboratory setting. The risk takers will be encouraged to continue to take risks once they are plucked from their garages and basements.

I believe hackerspaces will be the new recruiting grounds. We’ve already seen people that are targeting them for sales (chips, discretes, software) because the projects that are made often are spectacular advertisement; the open source hardware people develop in these collaborative workspaces often become platforms to seed many other projects as well. In the future, we’ll also see recruiters hanging around hackerspaces looking to pluck talent before the person realizes they’re not just working on an Arduino for fun, they also have a future as an embedded system. You just wait, it’ll happen. For at least one person interviewing potential candidates, it already is.

By Chris Gammell

Chris Gammell is an engineer who talks more than most other engineers. He also writes, makes videos and a couple podcasts. While analog electronics happen to be his primary interests, he also dablles in FPGAs and system level design.

7 replies on “Recruiting In An Emerging Age Of Makers”

Great article. I’ve been hiring programmers for the video game industry for over 15 years. I also look for the people that make games at home because they have a passion for creating. They’re hard to find.

Bringing innovation and creativity to the job is what’s going to separate US engineers from outsourced engineering. The innovation will happen here, the grinding will happen overseas.

The access to information via Google and the Internet, combined with the access to inexpensive tools is changing everything. You no longer have to be part of a mega-corporation to make an amazing product and bring it to market.

I had no idea this wasn’t the norm already. Around here you are expected to work on cars or something in your spare time. Even with all the projects at school, most semi-ambitious students I know profess their interest in building things or working on their car or whatever else it is they apply their interest in engineering to other facets of their life. There are some analysis positions where this wouldn’t be expected, but otherwise the more hands on and the more you do beyond work and school the better.

Do let us know when you hire a dude from a hackerspace for an engineering position.

[…] Furthermore, there are resources today that allow individuals to continue learning on their own. Video resources like MIT Open Course Ware (OCW) can replace or augment self learning on particular topics. Message boards can provide a forum to interface with experts and to keep up on recent developments in your industry. The prices of equipment have nosedived in the past 10-15 years, allowing many more people to have a “lab section” in their house. And things like hackerspaces allow for social interactions and places to flesh out more advanced ideas. […]

Silicon Valley thrived on this in the 70's and 80's. It's hard to find a home computer from that era that didn't have it's roots in a garage or computer club.

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