I see a growing disconnect in our industry between companies wanting to hire the most talented people, and the experience the most talented people I know have during the interview process. A short thread 🧵
I see a lot of company leaders complaining that they can't find people with the right skills and experience to fill their open roles. Roles will often go unfilled for months, and when they do finally fill those roles, the person will be a poor fit and leave within months.
At the same time I hear from so many objectively talented people about being on the job market for 9 months, having countless interviews and being continually ghosted by companies.

I think I've finally figured out why this in happening, and it's largely to do with companies mistaking experience for skillset. Let me explain...
A lot of companies want to hire people who have done exactly the same job as they're hiring for, for an almost identical company as they know that person can fit right in, with minimum risk.
You're looking for a PM to join your ride sharing team? Then you look for somebody who either worked at a competing ride sharing company first, or a company with a similar model, like a Deliveroo or Task Rabbit.
That's great, but what you end up creating are echo chambers. You also end up hiring folks who have got comfortable solving one class of problem, and then repeating it ad infinitum.
The most talented people I know generally crave novelty. They enjoy thinking about and solving new problems, rather than relying on what what worked for them previously. They're essentially growth oriented people focussed on learning.
This is what the Lean Start-up tells us we should be optimising for, so it's ironic that companies generally optimise for people who have worked in the same type of business solving similar problems before.
As an aside there are very good reasons for doing this, as I've covered in past threads. Most notably the fact that it takes a lot time for somebody to understand the ins and outs of a particular sector, so it feels economical to hire somebody who already understands it.
You also avoid hiring somebody that keeps coming up with ideas that you feel have been tried before or unworkable (although it's often these very people who bring the innovation, so companies need to decide whether they really want innovation or not).
On the other side of the coin I meet super talented people who clearly have the skills necessary to excel at the role, but they came from an agency background, a corporate background, or the wrong size of flavour of start-up and the hiring manager struggles to see the fit.
What's happening here is that the hiring manager is mistaking experience for skill-set. Rather than thinking, "his person has solved this class of problems before", they're thinking, "this person hasn't been employed by this type of company before."
As a result, I see super talented people who come from a slightly different background get repeatedly passed over in favour of more mediocre candidates with a super safe identikit background.
People who went to the right school, dress the right look, know a few other mediocre people from the same school that work at said company, and have done 9 month stints at Google, Facebook and Twitter running mediocre teams shipping mediocre (but safe and predictable) product.
This disappoints me as somebody who enjoyed hiring in the early years of the web, when there wasn't a specific background to hire from, and instead everybody was some sort of misfit.
Because you know the people with the misfit background had super interesting stories to tell, were highly motivated problem solvers, and would enrich your company culture.
You could hire these people if you were primarily indexing on skill-set. However if you're using work experience and brand recognition at a proxy for skill-set because the person hiring doesn't know what good looks like, you end up with safe mediocrity.
I've seen this with start-up founders wanting their first designer to have worked at Google of Facebook, because they think it's a safe bet. However at start-ups you need somebody who can take an idea from 0-1, rather than polish an idea from 1,000-1,001.
You also need somebody who is comfortable working working in a small messy team, rather than somebody who is used to a lot of structure and having their washing done for them.
I think most early stage start-ups would be better off hiring freelancers or agency folks than somebody from a big tech company, but they feel like the big tech experience is safer.
Similarly I've seen some amazing design leaders from traditional companies turned down by tech firms because they don't have start-up experience, despite having a tonne of managerial experience, and instead hiring somebody with zero managerial experience but the right brands.
There's often a misunderstanding amongst tech firms that people management is something that's easy for practitioners to learn, but that if you've worked at a more traditional company you're somehow tainted by a big corp stench (despite being big corps themselves).
As such I'd like to see more recruiters think seriously about the skill-set of the people they interview, while putting the companies that person has worked at in the background. Not least because we create a tonne of personal prejudices around those brands.
There may be very good reasons why the person you're interviewing went to work for a brand you don't personally rate, and the work they did (and more importantly the skills they learned) may turn out to be a much better fit.
A much better fit than the person who found themselves working for the current brand du jour mostly though luck.
I should add that I see this thinking a lot in the VC world as well. Backing people who did an 18 month stint as a mid level manager at a fast growing brand, without really finding out what they actually contributed at said brand.
There's just an assumption that if you did 9 months as a marketing manager at FaceMash, before being promoted to head of marketing largely because there was a hole to fill and you knew where the bodies were buried, it'll somehow make you an amazing entrepreneur. I don't see it.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Andy Budd

Andy Budd Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @andybudd

29 Oct
Please complete the following sentence.

"I know I'm listening to a 'thought leader' because..."
I'll get you started.

"I know I'm listening to a 'thought leader' because they've included that William Gibson quote in their talk"
"I know I'm listening to a 'thought leader' because they've referenced Moore's Law"
Read 4 tweets
29 Oct
One of my major frustrations over the years has been people's natural tendency (mine included) to spend more time coming up with reasons why something will fail than why we should go ahead. Essentially demonstrating a "no, but" rather than a "yes, and" mindset 🧵
This is most commonly seen in meetings where one person presents and idea, and then the rest of the participants then come up with reasons why the idea won't work.
If the person who has come up with the idea has organisational power (e.g. CEO), they'll often move ahead with conviction, irrespective of any raised concerns. Often holding the perspective that the concerns are largely theoretical and can be overcome with effort.
Read 27 tweets
28 Oct
It's amazing how much of management (and by extension, coaching) is asking people whether the thing they've just shared with you, they've also shared with the person they're talking about. Ideally in the same calm, even mannered and non-judgemental fashion.
What they've shared is almost always some perfectly rational concern, pitched in a way that makes them sound reasonable. Largely because people want to be seen as reasonable by their bosses (and coaches).
If they shared this concern in the same reasonable, rational and caring way with the person they're referencing, things would almost certainly work out fine. However they've almost certainly not tried this.
Read 26 tweets
27 Oct
One if my friends says “Don’t worry what’ll happen if you fail to meet your goals. Worry what’ll happen if you hit them”

We often spend our time chasing goals without thinking what a icing said goal will actually mean.
I want to be a VP.

6 years later. I hate spending so much time recruiting, bouncing between meetings and dealing with team infighting and company politics.
I love design and want to start an agency.

6 years later. Nobody told me running an agency involved so much sales, writing endless proposals, and dealing with disgruntled staff and customers.
Read 4 tweets
27 Oct
This is very true, so I can’t help wonder what the glut of VC money at the moment is doing to the creativity of early stage start-ups.
Start-ups often fail by running out of money. However I wonder whether having too much money can also have a detrimental effect.
I see a lot of early stage start-ups raising increasingly large amounts of money on often mind-boggling valuations. This massively changes their behaviour and attitude to experimentation and risk.
Read 6 tweets
22 Oct
I think there are fundamentally three approaches to processional career development.

1. Hunter Gatherer
2. Single Crop Farmer
3. Multi-crop Farmer
Most people are nomadic hunter gathers. They're essentially opportunists. One job leads to the next job, which leads to the next job, following the opportunities presented to them. There's some directionality, but it's about the journey rather than the destination.
Some people can be super lucky following this approach and end up somewhere truly special, that they never could have imagined on their own. Others end up feeling a little lost and aimless, not happy with where the currents have taken them.
Read 7 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!