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  • Writer's pictureSherry

We Can’t Assess Talent Like Cavemen

This post was originally posted on LinkedIn on January 9, 2015


Thousands of years ago, cavemen most likely roamed this earth. They survived and evolved the human race by assessing their competition, future mates, and caveman friends by how they looked. Strength, agility, and resilience all signaled that you could survive the harsh terrains, thus making you ideal talent to carry on the human gene.

Fast forward a few hundred/thousands of years and we had telephones, electricity, and cars, but limited working demographics. With this, our assessment of great talent altered a bit. We began to focus on how where people went to school, how high their IQ was, and skills they were able to learn in school.

Then, the big boom happened... an explosion of technology (hello, computers!) put people on equal playing fields. It was less about where you went to school and was more about what kind of skills or competencies you had. Can you use Microsoft Word, do you know how to read excel reports?

Now we are about to head into the next era of talent evolution... Potential. With globalization, economic turmoil, market fluctuations, and scarce talent, organizations are going to be forced to assess talent on potential. The future of talent will not be based on past performance because past performance will no longer be a gauge of future success. Think of some of the greatest talent to build technology like Instagram, SnapChat, or even Facebook. These things did not exist when those engineers went to school or even when they took their first entry level job. Most likely, these engineers were hired because Instagram, SnapChat, or Facebook felt like these engineers had the potential to build a never-before-seen technology.

How you measure potential will depend on the industry, but one thing will remain the same... We can no longer look at how tall someone is, where they graduated, or how well they did in past roles to determine who will be successful tomorrow.

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