Talent vs. Experience

December 10, 2008

The concepts in this post were going to be covered in future posts on hiring IT staff in the SMB space. However Oliviér Blanchard’s inspiring post called Talent Vs. Experience on the BrandBuilder blog challenged me to bring it forward in time.

In the small business / medium business space, senior IT professionals are too often hired for a particular level of technical experience rather than great talent or performance. In a comment I made on Oliviér’s post, I (half) jokingly pointed at the technology industry looking for people with 10 years of experience in a 6 month old technology.

This may be caused by lack of senior management knowledge of what skills they are actually looking for when hiring what may be their first business technology team leader or manager.

Or, it may be that an organization may apply a senior title, but the job description and job specification is truly looking for a Business Technology electrician. (Which is an event that I have seen more than once.)

You can debate the term talent as either learned, or innate. I will leave that to experts such as Geoff Colvin,  because for the concept here, there is no relevance either way.


I am not denigrating experience here. If you currently are running a line of business, or enterprise technology platform, perhaps resource planning, point of sale, or financial, perhaps you need that experienced electrician to dive into the wiring to keep the power flowing.

But relying too much on experience does not help you when something changes.

If the rules change, the old way of doing things may not work anymore.

Define Talent?

If we look at talent as a particular aptitude,  then an individuals previous experience with something is absolutely no inhibitor to excellence in something new.

Don’t believe me?

I have a lifetime of experience in the English language, but I am not talented in its usage. (as any creative author, journalist or editor would attest!)

I can therefor guarantee that a talented writer to whom English may be their second or third language, will provide you a better result than I can with a lifetime of  experience.


In the technology space, a talented individual is more likely to think outside of the current constraints.

They can think beyond the ‘it has always been done this way dilemma.

A talented individual knows the constructs that can affect outcomes and deliverables, even if they have not been seen before.

This is not limited to technology. In what we call the skilled trades, there is high variability of the work being done. This variability meaning that no two issues (jobs) are identical.

So talent is building on your framework of skill and knowledge to accomplish what you have not seen before.

Talent + Experience

It goes without saying, having both is solid gold!

I will go into more detail and examples that I have run into over the years in future ‘hiring IT’ in SMB space posts.

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2 Responses to “Talent vs. Experience”

  1. […] I was going to do this in one post, simply because I envy Olivier Blanchards wordsmithing, but he puts told you so! to my post of; Talent vs Experince! […]

  2. […] Go to the author’s original blog: Talent vs. Experience « A Dime a Dozen Small Business, Tech and Talk […]

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