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Talent from Hollywood to Silicon Valley October 22, 2009

Posted by Darwin in applicant tracking, Talent.
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actor and coderThe Merriam Webster Dictionary defines talent in three ways:

1) a characteristic feature, aptitude, or disposition of a person or animal
2) the natural endowments of a person
3) a special often athletic, creative, or artistic aptitude

Talent is a trendy word often thrown around within various industry lingos, from Hollywood to Silicon Valley.  In Hollywood, talent used to refer directly to an actor or actress, though that definition has since expanded to the variety of creative roles necessary for film production.

In Hollywood, the word ‘talent’ carries a number of unspoken meanings.  One of those is the notion that talent is  irreplaceable.   Although actors, cinematographers, and directors often shift in the initial phases of pre-production, as scripts and funding are still being secured, changing talent during a project can be a disaster.    Filming with a lead actor who quits (or dies) mid-film can pose obvious problems, and pretty much means re-shooting everything (although recently digital ‘recreation’ provides a somewhat morbid option).

Major Hollywood corporations like Creative Artists Agency are built around finding and selling talent.  Talent Agents pride themselves on the quality of the talent they represent, and make or break their careers by landing their clients in big pictures.

The importance of acting talent is one of the reasons why Christian Bale / Russell Crowe-esque hissy fits are somewhat tolerated in the industry.   What choice is an executive producer left with?  Fire the lead and face setting back the movie’s release for a year or more and ending up cash strapped.  Although less apparent, other creative roles are just as integral to the continuity of a film.   Losing a director, cinematographer, best boy or set designer can change a film’s aesthetic completely.

Other industries also utilize the word ‘Talent,’ although in a somewhat different manner.  In Silicon Valley, talent is in a stage of redefinition.   Unlike Hollywood’s creative types, talent in the Valley primarily refers to brilliant Engineers.   Developers are the hot commodity here, gauged on their ability to code complex and cutting edge software and websites.

Although software developers are considered more mathematical than creative (this could be argued), they also possess an irreplaceable talent quality.  Trying to swap out a head developer mid-project can be just as disastrous as losing a lead actor.  Developers utilize their own methods and signatures in writing code, and finding a new engineer to pick up the pieces can be a costly and time-sapping affair for a company.

However, unlike the Hollywood talent agency structure, Silicon Valley talent is often found and recruited through modern, ‘Web 2.0’ techniques.  Cutting edge applicant tracking and recruiting software solutions allow companies to discover and attract the best talent out there.  Unlike the often complex Hollywood wine and dine process, companies in the Valley can utilize simple but efficient recruiting software solutions to find engineers and programmers (to build more software).

Although Talent is irreplacable and unique, the process of finding and attracting new talent is clearly still evolving.

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