Mark Zuckerberg says hire talent over experience. I want to talk more about that. I generally say that we need character first and talent next. However, I have been hiring talent over experience for a long time, so I should speak to that as well.
More than a decade ago, I built a business in China doing high interest short term loans to small businesses. Our vision was to help the smallest and build a sustainable business. We did both, and it still runs, but I left that work over a decade ago.
Our business model was not easy to understand in China.
So hiring bank people who were very experienced would get me people with traditional ideas when I was selling a new concept product, I also saw that hiring older people meant they had less openness to learning an out of the box thought. After I graduated from West Point, they made me and my classmates platoon leaders of 30 man units. These units had senior leaders with 10 to 15 years experience in the Army.
VWhy did the American Army structure for 22 year olds to lead 30 plus year old men? They needed our teachable and idealistic spirit to maintain the high ideals of the US Army. I used the same things and hired people right out of college to be the office managers over local people who had life experience but no idealism, That worked great. In other places I have often placed people who had less clear experience than other candidates as saw their talent and teachability. One of the reasons Mark Zuckerberg is successful is that he tries everything. He is always experimenting and always learning, That is the guy you need for your company, He started Facebook at age 19 while a sophomore in college. What made him qualified? He was curious and tried everything He got more data than everyone by trying everything and found something everyone really liked
Hiring Talent Over Experience Works
Mark naturally did not respect experience as he was 19 and clearly had enough talent! His success to date indicates his focus on talent over experience made sense. Those college graduates I hired had some talent that the local people without any education did not, The college graduates could capture a new idea faster. I am not saying you should hire recent college graduates to be managers, but I want us to open our eyes to what Mark Zuckerberg said and represents.
I talk to many hiring managers, and they usually nod in agreement to this idea, but as soon as they get a resume in hand, they are all about experience. They cannot think about what this resume says about a person that they may want to hire. They get caught up in resume focus. Then they interview and end up seeing all the good things about the guy who made a good impression on them in the first 30 seconds. Many swear by that method, but the politics and mediocre work all around shows that this does not work consistently.
Talent for what you need is rare, and of much more value than experience. Sometimes they go together, but we should never forget what we really need. We need Trustworthy Talent®. I would more deeply warn against talent over what I call skillful people.