Hiring “Superstars” vs “Linemen” For Your IT Team

By: Jack Bader, President | CEO of Neteffects


As I watched Super Bowl XLII last Sunday, I was struck by how impressive the Giants performed against the vaunted offense of the Patriots. Who would have imagined that this powerhouse of scoring would be held to 14 points…and lose the game? I’m sure that Vegas bookies lost a lot of money on that.

How did the Giants achieve this feat? The easy answer is to point to Eli Manning and his passing game…but I think it’s more attributable to the defensive linemen of the Giants. They consistently pressured Tom Brady, sacked him and threw off his game. The Patriots were simply not allowed to get their high-scoring game in motion.

The parallels to the IT business and software development should not be ignored. Successful IT projects are “won” by the talented software professionals who function as the “linemen.”

In our business, clients sometimes list job requirements that only a true “superstar” can meet. These superbly qualified “quarterback” and “wide receiver” superstars can definitely get the job done. They know what they are doing and will help push your project to successful completion.

The problem with superstars is that that you cannot staff your whole team with them. For one thing, like the NFL, projects typically have a “salary cap” and you simply cannot afford to hire as many superstars as needed. Every one of your corporate competitors is also out there trying to execute “trades” to lock-up as many superstars as possible. The competition is fierce, it takes a long time to recruit them and the pool of players is small

In addition, without a talented “coach” all those superstars become challenging to manage. If the project is not interesting, if the pay and perks are not sufficient or if the there is not enough recognition…you stand the risk of having your superstars picked off by the competition.

All of this means that your project may succeed spectacularly…or it could fail miserably if you are dependent on superstars.

From my perspective, over the years my preference would be to hire a complete project team of “lineman” with the addition of a few “superstars.”

“Linemen” have wonderful attributes for IT projects:

  • Unsung players;
  • Gladly do the “dirty” jobs over and over again;
  • Uncomplaining;
  • Let others get the glory;
  • Highly skilled.

“Linemen” are easier to manage, generally good team players and usually require only market competitive compensation. In many cases a good lineman may have the same skills as a superstar.

As an IT staffing firm, NetEffects is focused on filling all the slots on your team. We have a long history of successfully filling many superstar positions. If you need a QB, wide receiver or running back to gain the yards…we can draft the perfect person.

But the majority of the people we field for our clients are the “lineman.” They are dependable, top quality and affordable. And for an “expansion city” with the need to field an entire team…NetEffects has the track record to draft all the players that you need.

Let us represent you for your next big game!