Looking for the next linchpin to join your team? Don’t make the fatal mistake of starting your search with a list of prerequisites that may exclude the best talent from the pool.
A couple decades ago, education, experience, and age were viewed as necessary boxes to check. Not any longer. Today, discerning leaders look beyond the resume.
Thankfully, a number of superstars have broken the mold, proving that greatness can be achieved in unconventional ways.
How many well-meaning friends and family members told 20-year old Mark Zuckerberg that he should finish his degree and get more programming experience before taking on a major business venture?
But now he’s the 5th richest person in the world! And he did it without the benefit of age, experience, or a degree.
And he’s not alone. For every successful business leader who earned the right degree and slowly worked up the corporate ladder, there are 3 or 4 who used “smartcuts” to “hack the ladder” (read Shane Snow’s book if you haven’t already – great stuff!).
They started something in their garage or basement. They trusted their gut, bet on themselves, and did something no one had done before. As Seth Godin says, they “raised their ruckus.”
Don’t get me wrong; there is value in being experienced, seasoned, and educated but there are also major advantages to being young, untrained, and new to a field:
- They have fresh eyes – they aren’t too close to a project like everyone who is “seasoned” in their industry
- They have energy and optimism – they aren’t beaten down or jaded by years of being told something can’t be done
- They have more to prove – they don’t have the benefit of tenure. They know they have to perform and they might work circles around someone with an impressive resume.
- They are digital natives – social media and other digital platforms are like second nature to them. They are closer to the technology that is so vital to today’s business opportunities.
In a previous role, I had 28 direct reports, most of whom were in their 20’s. I saw each of them as equals and treated them that way. Sadly, this was the first time many of these rock stars were trusted and empowered to own their area of responsibility.
But I knew they were capable of great things and without exception, every single one of them lived up to my expectations. In fact, many of them went on to start their own companies whose growth trajectories far exceed the company we worked together in. Great job guys! I’m so proud to have worked with you.
By the way, many of these team members left humbling recommendations for me on LinkedIn expressing how thankful they were to be led this way. Check those out and see what those people are up to.
In a previous post (see image below), I challenged leaders to lead as though they would eventually report to those who currently report to them. What I didn’t specify though was that that isn’t just a possibility 10 years from now. It could happen tomorrow.
I would gladly report to any of the people I led in my previous position.
Is that how you view your staff today? Are they rock stars that you need more than they need you? Are you honored to work with them?
Leaders, the next time you need to staff up, look beyond the resume.
Job seekers in your 20’s, don’t sell yourself short. You’re capable of great things. Take some “smartcuts”. Find a true leader who believes in you today and will invest in your future. To borrow Seth Godin’s quote again, “Go make your ruckus!”