If you hang out with the cool software engineering kids, you’ll probably hear about isomorphisms. While this term has a formal mathematical definition, for most purposes it’s just a big word with a simple meaning. Specifically, that two different things are functionally identical for some purpose. Pizza and ice cream are very different, but are isomorphic with regard to wrecking a diet.
This piece is about isomorphic experience in tech; that is, work experience that appears unrelated to what a company is looking for when hiring for a role but is really the same as the listed requirement. I focus on my experience in law (specifically patent litigation) and management consulting in this piece, but the general idea applies to candidates with backgrounds in medicine, the sciences, and other areas.
You may be asking at this point why, other than academic curiosity, you should care. Well, if you hire, being aware of isomorphic experience allows you to expand the pool of possible candidates, and capture talent your competitors may have overlooked. Exploiting labor market inefficiencies was one of the main lessons from Michael Lewis’s classic Moneyball - here we are just applying it, well, for lack of a better word, isomorphically - to the tech industry.
Two Case Studies
The beginning of my career was spent almost exclusively as a patent litigator. That means once a dispute led to a lawsuit over patents, I was on the team arguing our client’s side. (The majority of the ...more ...