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Why Astrophysics Is Like Hiring

I just finished reading “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
The author is a master at helping the reader understand the mysteries of the heavens.
Among the points he makes is that when we cast our eyes to the sky, we’re not seeing the sun, moon and stars as they are now. We’re seeing them as they were at some point in the past.
For example, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, light from the sun needs eight minutes, 20 seconds to reach Earth. So when we gaze at a sunset, we’re seeing the sun as it was a little while ago.
When we train our telescopes on the most distant galaxy, we find light that began its trip 13.3 billion years ago.
Strangely enough, people who make hiring decisions are often like astronomers. They are seeing things as they were in the past. Consider the sports team that signs an athlete to an expensive contract. The team is laying out lots of cash based on the player’s track record.
Too often, the player never lives up to the expectations. The team doesn’t get a return on an investment. Meanwhile, while waiting and hoping that the athlete will finally deliver some performance, the team overlooks someone who deserves to play.
Then there’s that staple of the job market: the resume. What is a resume at its core? It’s a summary of what an applicant has done. But just as with the highly paid athlete, the resume is an unreliable predictor of future performance.
What does this mean for people who must make hiring decisions? It means they must understand that the past can only tell them so much. It means they must use other indicators. What are those indicators? That’s the ongoing quest being explored in these pages.


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