Looking for a job? Highlight your ability, not your experience | Jason Shen

Looking for a job? Highlight your ability, not your experience | Jason Shen

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You know who I’m envious of? People who work in a job
that has to do with their college major. (Laughter) Journalists who studied journalism, engineers who studied engineering. The truth is, these folks
are no longer the rule, but the exception. A 2010 study found that
only a quarter of college graduates work in a field
that relates to their degree. I graduated with not one
but two degrees in biology. To my parents’ dismay,
I am neither a doctor nor a scientist. (Laughter) Years of studying DNA replication
and photosynthesis did little to prepare me
for a career in technology. I had to teach myself everything
from sales, marketing, strategy, even a little programming, on my own. I had never held the title
of Product Manager before I sent my resume in to Etsy. I had already been turned down
by Google and several other firms and was getting frustrated. The company had recently gone public, so as part of my job application, I read the IPO filings from cover to cover and built a website from scratch
which included my analysis of the business and four ideas for new features. It turned out the team was actively
working on two of those ideas and had seriously considered a third. I got the job. We all know people who were ignored
or overlooked at first but went on to prove their critics wrong. My favorite story? Brian Acton, an engineering manager who was rejected
by both Twitter and Facebook before cofounding WhatsApp, the mobile messaging platform
that would sell for 19 billion dollars. The hiring systems we built
in the 20th century are failing us and causing us to miss out
on people with incredible potential. The advances in robotics
and machine learning and transforming the way we work, automating routine tasks
in many occupations while augmenting and amplifying
human labor in others. At this rate, we should all be expecting
to do jobs we’ve never done before for the rest of our careers. So what are the tools
and strategies we need to identify tomorrow’s high performers? In search for answers, I’ve consulted
with leaders across many sectors, read dozens of reports and research papers and conducted some of my own
talent experiments. My quest is far from over, but here are three ideas to take forward. One: expand your search. If we only look for talent
in the same places we always do — gifted child programs, Ivy League schools, prestigious organizations — we’re going to get
the same results we always have. Baseball was transformed
when the cash-strapped Oakland Athletics started recruiting players
who didn’t score highly on traditionally valued metrics,
like runs batted in, but who had the ability
to help the team score points and win games. This idea is taking hold
outside of sports. The Head of Design
and Research at Pinterest told me that they’ve built
one of the most diverse and high-performing teams
in Silicon Valley because they believe
that no one type of person holds a monopoly on talent. They’ve worked hard
to look beyond major tech hubs and focus on designers’ portfolios, not their pedigrees. Two: hire for performance. Inspired by my own job experience, I cofounded a hiring platform
called Headlight, which gives candidates
an opportunity to shine. Just as teams have tryouts
and plays have auditions, candidates should be asked
to demonstrate their skills before they’re hired. Our clients are benefiting
from 85 years of employment research, which shows that work samples are one of the best predictors
of success on the job. If you’re hiring a data analyst, give them a spreadsheet of historical data
and ask them for their key insights. If you’re hiring a marketing manager, have them plan a launch campaign
for a new product. And if you’re a candidate,
don’t wait for an employer to ask. Seek out ways to showcase
your unique skills and abilities outside of just the standard
resume and cover letter. Three: get the bigger picture. I’ve heard about recruiters who are quick
to label a candidate a job-hopper based on a single
short stint on their resume; read about professors who are more likely
to ignore identical messages from students because their name
was black or Asian instead of white. I was almost put on
a special needs track as a child. A month into kindergarten, my teacher wrote a page-long memo noting that I was impulsive, had a short attention span, and despite my wonderful curiosity, I was exhausting to work with. (Laughter) The principal asked
my parents into a meeting, asked my mother if there
had been complications at birth and suggested I meet
with a school psychologist. My father saw what was happening and quickly explained
our family situation. As recent immigrants,
we lived in the attic of a home that cared for adults
with mental disabilities. My parents worked nights
to make ends meet, and I had little opportunity
to spend time with kids my own age. Is it really a surprise
that an understimulated five-year-old boy might be a little excited
in a kindergarten classroom after an entire summer by himself? Until we get a holistic view of someone, our judgment of them
will always be flawed. Let’s stop equating
experience with ability, credentials with competence. Let’s stop settling
for the safe, familiar choice and leave the door open
for someone who could be amazing. We need employers to let go
of outdated hiring practices and embrace new ways
of identifying and cultivating talent, and candidates can help
by learning to tell their story in powerful and compelling ways. We could live in a world where people
are seen for what they’re truly capable of and have the opportunity
to realize their full potential. So let’s go out and build it. Thank you. (Applause)


  1. I have worked in about a dozen jobs, all related to my bachelor's degree in Communications: newspaper copy editor and reporter, publications director for medical university and medical centers, Chamber of Commerce VP, literacy nonprofit executive, and now English Language Learner teacher.

  2. 한국에선 학벌,연령,성별,경력,경험,자격증 등 모든 요소가 중요합니다. 한국의 채용방식은 거의 인권침해 및 인종차별 수준이죠.

  3. I'm not downvoting this video because I think there is a good message buried in there, but please lose the pandering to the SJWs. Young prospective employees do need to develop themselves and build a portfolio, but companies should hire based purely on merit instead of that diversity nonsense.

  4. I did a "work sample" I found the company was as bad or worse than the company I was trying to get away from.

  5. There is a lot of prejudice against people from certain universities. NY and Boston area consulting groups are full of prejudice against no Ivy League schools.

  6. Right!!!!!! Omg I have been saying this but don’t have a big enough platform to bring the change. Two degrees and a cert that I am trying my hardest to use. Honor Roll Student since grade school. Still Struggling!!

  7. Funny because at every interview they only ask about my experience. I talk about my ability but they aren't interested.

  8. I got interested in your world
    and got optimistic
    when you said the quarter of people who work what did the studied
    thank you

  9. We all have so many gifts and talents that we aren't aware of. Don't let an outdated system tell you how valuable you are. Keep getting to know yourself on deeper levels and let your authenticity shine thru. Once you know who you really are, the abundance of the universe is yours. Success will radiate out of you.

  10. If you enjoy self improvement vids and want to be more confident and accomplish your goals, my videos will help you! Stop by the channel- all welcome:)

  11. This is inspiring me to once again pursue work in the video game industry despite my degree being in Advertising and Marketing 😭

  12. Dude you joined a startup I'm not impressed you got lucky and now you are trying to make more money off the luck by selling the dream to chumps

  13. I have to sincerely appreciate the new "school of thought" that I gather from the wisdom shared in this presentation. It's encouraging to focus more so on our ability to showcase our experience. I plan to flag this presentation as one of my favorites. Thank you Jason Shen for sharing this wisdom with us.

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  15. As someone who has worked at 104 different companies since 1994, you have some good advice for the young people just entering the workforce, My bit of advice for you all. GO WORK FOR YOURSELVES, as soon as you develop enough skills to do it. otherwise, you will waste a great deal of your lives making a bunch of people money while you have just enough to get by.

  16. I can tell everyone out here, that your abilities are always more important than a degree or your experiences. Experiences often go together with your abilities, but not always. In particular in creative fields. You might think oh I got my bachelor or even a Phd, I will find the best jobs. But the truth is, because more and more people studying now, the degree becomes less important and in 10 years there will be so many employers who want to see people who got the ability and not just the knowledge. Maybe you don't even need a degree anymore in 10 years if you are doing a fantastic job

  17. Nice ideas… but demonstrating your abilities like that all too often means doing free work for a company that can afford to pay you. If it's just an interview, fine. But a candidate shouldn't send in an analysis of a spreadsheet or a completed C program if the company isn't paying them yet. Translators are often abused like this. The company gets you to do a "sample translation". Get ten candidates to do a page, and you have a completed ten-page translation, that should have cost you hundreds of dollars.

  18. Interviewers often have hard time looking for flaws of candidates— on ability, experience, character rather than millions of reasons for the candidate to contribute to the organization. There lies the disconnect. A candidate wants to be part of the organization and grow with what he or she will give, not what the interviewers are impossibly looking.

  19. I agree with Jason Shen but I think this theory cannot put in Hong Kong.The hiring system in Hong Kong is looking at your education or your working experience even though it cost us to miss out many people with incredible potential,in Hong Kong still have many employer think that is was a faster way to find a good employee.

  20. I agree with Jason Shen but I think this theory cannot put in Hong Kong.The hiring system in Hong Kong is looking at your education or your working experience even though it cost us to miss out many people with incredible potential,in Hong Kong still have many employer think that is was a faster way to find a good employee.

  21. I agree with Jason Shen but I think this theory cannot put in Hong Kong.The hiring system in Hong Kong is looking at your education or your working experience even though it cost us to miss out many people with incredible potential,in Hong Kong still have many employer think that is was a faster way to find a good employee.

  22. applied for 200+ jobs online and got no response from most of them and the ones who replied rejected straight away without even an opportunity for interview. Having a postgraduate degree in MBA from a british university but still can't find a decent job because all companies require expreince and that too loads of it and that too only from the relevant industry and relevant position and don't forget to have a work permit already and a driving license. Really sad and depressing for a fresher where talent and ability does not matter, only experience.

  23. www.doctorjohnbrown1977.com

    For those of you looking for a job, try stuffing envelopes. You can make $50 a hour. The information is real.

  24. Nice in theory, but all they ask about is experience. Nobody wants a master gratuate. They want them, but only if they already got some experience. So.. who is going to give them the first experience? That's the hard part. After that you can basically get jobs where you want and even ask for more money than what they'd give you since you could just go somewhere else.

  25. Great Video clip! Forgive me for butting in, I would love your opinion. Have you researched – Chiveard Discovering Potential Framework (probably on Google)? It is a good one off guide for finding your true calling and achieving success minus the hard work. Ive heard some super things about it and my cooworker after many years got cool results with it.

  26. Is he reading a script? It sounds memorized, and that's a little distracting. Regardless, it was an interesting speech

  27. I agree with Jason Shen on the fact that our practices for finding a job are outdated. Gone are the days of HR's reading hundreds of resumes or a computer performing a blind keyword search. I found a similar talk to this one that also talks about outdated practices and suggests and idea for a new one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oAZSd1hrxU

  28. A 20-something explaining the job search. The very same kind of 20- something millenial that would NEVER want to work with nor hire a person over age 32.

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