The One Must Have For Harled

The non-negotiable attribute of a candidate to be successful at Harled.
Chris Young
Chris Young
October 12, 2023

In this post I want to cover the absolute one "must have" attribute of a successful candidate looking to join a tech company like Harled. Yes, there are some outliers that I will discuss, but by and large the one attribute I'm going to discuss will not only help you land a job, but it will ensure that you excel and grow for your entire career.

Let's Talk About Passion

That attribute is "Passion". Why? Well, let's unpack why it is passion and why it isn't some other seemingly obvious answers like technical skills, experience or degrees.

We value passion above and beyond all else because we've found it to be the single best determinant of the success of a hire, both individually and as a member of the overall team. Passion acts as an accelerant for all other aspects of work. Be it learning new skills, solving a hard problem or building the company's culture.

The other nice thing about passion is it sticks out like a sore thumb. After conducting hundreds of interviews, it is crystal clear when passion is present and when it isn't. I've been in far too many "gamed" interviews where the candidate is clearly trying to pass a test vs understand that what we're both after is fit. Not only is this completely unrelated to working for Harled but it also clearly lacks any passion.

I've been disappointed by hires with the right skills and knowledge, but never one with passion.

Directing Passion

So the next question is, how is this passion directed or framed in the context of work? My favourite is passion for the mission of the company. The "why" we show up for work every morning. For Harled, the initiatives vary, but one of our largest is to serve the heroes of the Royal Canadian Air Force. If a candidate is excited about helping our service members, our Air Force and our country then the rest is negotiable.

The second, but a distant second in my mind is a deep passion for the technology. This is likely higher on the list as a company grows in size (and thus candidates find themselves further from the end user). If an individual raves about Ruby on Rails and can't wait to spend time with it everyday then that enthusiasm will be catching.

Why Not Skills?

Skills are a transient thing. Especially in tech. I had somebody ask me what programming languages I know, it is almost a silly question to answer after two decades (I've been really good at about 10, used about 20 and presently excel at none). Could I learn one again? Sure. Could I learn a new one? Of course!

This is dated, but sticks out in my mind. In ~2010 I applied for a tech lead position at a large tech company that starts with a "G". I remember the in-person interview as a five hour soulless whiteboard session. It was a miserable experience that left me physically feeling terrible after leaving their office. The entire interview was focused on skills and knowledge (graph theory, computational complexity, algorithms etc..), something I would have confused for a 3rd year university exam season over a career. After that experience, I had absolutely zero desire to join that team or ever work for that company.

The caveat here, if you want to build a culture of academics who work alone (and I worked at IBM research, and the 20 interviews I did to land there were MUCH more enjoyable) then this might be the way to go.

Why Not Experience?

Experience IS valuable, however, I find that an individual's passion is primary and their experience is a side effect. Certain career paths, accomplishments or even framing of roles are only possible coming from an individual with passion. Likewise, somebody with passion likely won't slug it out in a role that isn't a good fit for them.

Experience also has a complex shelf-life in tech. Over two decades, I'm not even sure which of my experiences are net positive vs negative. The industry changes, the tools change and the "shiny object syndrome" is non-negotiable! In general, I put experience around the same longevity as assets in IT (about three years in Canada). So, time weighted with the most recent being more valuable.

This is not to be confused with a "but what have you done for me lately" mentality. Rather, the amazing things you've done in the past three years are only possible given all of your other years of experience.

Why Not Degrees?

I've hired across the board and personally worked with individuals from every prestigious university and college in North America (and much of EMEA and AP) thanks to my time at IBM Research. In my mind degrees have little to no relation to the success of an individual in a company. I've hired individuals with college diplomas (Canadian) who have greatly outperformed prestigious university degrees.

I have many more opinions in this space but I'll save those for a coffee chat.

Where is Your Passion?

Your job now is to understand where your passion lies and to make sure that you're comfortable letting that shine through when looking for opportunities.

The debate between being great at what you love and loving what you're great at can go on, but either way can lead to a successful career. The key is to figure out what fits you best.

If you know your passion and it aligns with Harled then please let us know (heck, even if it doesn't align, reach out to let us know that you found it). You can get in touch with us via Contact us.

About the author

Chris Young

Chris is dedicated to driving meaningful change in the world through software. He has taken dozens of projects from napkin to production in fast yet measured way. Chris has experience delivering solutions to clients spanning fortune 100, not-for-profit and Government.