Weekly Word on the Street: Moneyball for the Tech Set?

by Jim Staats | Oct 26, 2012

Takeaway of the week is another bit of reinforcement that skillsets in the mobile arena are a hot commodity if applied properly. Demand in this sector is only going to increase in the coming months while firms learn how to properly evaluate candidates. Some might apply the "Moneyball" mantra while others may throw piles of money.

What's Hot? Mobile Skills

Roles within the mobile space are in demand for firms on both sides of "the pond" with steady increases expected, new research shows. Feedback from hiring managers at 600 firms in the US and UK indicates three quarters of respondents are seeking candidates for mobile-based jobs, with demand increasing in the coming year.

The study, done by Antenna, a software firm specializing in cloud mobile services, also highlights the difficulty in finding candidates with the right skill sets for these roles, according to a new article in ComputerworldUK.com.

A quarter of the responding companies with vacancies requiring mobile skillsets are reporting such difficulty.

The research also noted a third of the firms had already employed several key mobile roles such as a mobile strategist, a trend that is expected to spread.

"As mobile matures, we expect to see a greater number of businesses expand their mobile teams and identify a mobile strategist to lead the way and ensure long-term success," said an Antenna executive.

The research found the sector's most in-demand skill-sets to be in mobile development, such as app developers, and mobile management, including those with device management (MDM) expertise.

'Moneyball' For the Tech Set

Just as a baseball team applied analytics to level the playing field in the movie "Moneyball," tech firms competing with the industry giants can do the same in IT hiring.

Or so a theory espoused in a recent article on CIO.com suggests.

In the movie and book of the same name, the true life wheeling and dealing of executives with the financially-strapped Oakland A's baseball team centered on identifying undervalued athletes using previously unheard of statistics which eventually formed the nucleus of a playoff-level team.

A firm called Catalyst IT is helping firms apply similar principles to the IT hiring process, focusing on metrics to recruit IT talent instead of the more traditional resume and interview route.

"Resumes and interviews have never been a great way to figure out whether or not someone is going to be good in a job or role," said Michael Rosenbaum, president of Catalyst IT.

Rosenbaum equates such practices to "playing a hunch" that rely on the interviewer's perspective too heavily.

He said his firm sifts through thousands of data points for companies they take on as clients to determine which candidates will be the high performers.

Factors taken into consideration include the number of functions or projects both a team and individual can complete within a specific window of time, defect rates, QA metrics, social networking and online application interaction.

Some tips provided by Rosenbaum that can be considered beneficial for both applicants and hiring managers alike:

  • Go beyond the resume - as an example, Rosenbaum said in screening more than 10,000 potential employees, he has yet to find relevant correlation between a degree held by a candidate and future success as a software developer
  • Big Data applies to people
  • Culture matters - Rosenbaum sees success in working together as a team rather than a bunch of loner types

Google Shows the Money

In the current manpower war waging across Silicon Valley and its environs, behemoth Google is winning the salary battle.

That's the finding of a new study which shows that software engineers with the Internet giant earn an average base salary of $128,336, more than the $123,626 pulled down by their peers at Facebook. The study, by job listings and information site Glassdoor, shows comparative figures for Apple engineers at $114,413; $108,809 at eBay; and $105,568 at Zynga Inc.

Study findings, discussed in a recent post for the Wall Street Journal, add heft to the point of Google making salary a key selling point in its recruitment process. The company issued 10 percent raises to all employees last year.

While Google may be king of the region in terms of base salary for engineers, Facebook is coming on strong. The difference in average salary between the two firms decreased to $4,710 this year from $6,852 last year, according to the study.

The national average for a software engineer's base salary, according to Glassdoor, is $92,648.

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