What are some hiring tips for early-stage startups? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Experience is often the first thing hiring managers look for, but there are advantages to bringing on people who have little to no experience in a particular role.
To find out these benefits, I chatted with ThirdLove's Marketing Director, Nisho Cherison, to find out why he embraces inexperience--and how he uses it to innovate.
You often prefer to hire people without much experience. Can you tell us a little about how that works for you?
No one on our paid social team had any experience with Facebook advertising and that's purposeful. I actually don't want people who have done Facebook ads before. Instead, I tend to look for people who are very analytical and comfortable with numbers and testing.
The truth is, Facebook is not rocket science. You can learn the tool in a couple days. Many of my friends in the industry tell me they hire people with years of experience. And I tell them, it's not necessary. It works just as well to hire smart people and give them some guidance.
So, if a candidate doesn't have specific marketing experience, what do you look for?
I look for people who are very self-motivated and willing to take initiative. If you're waiting around for someone to tell you what to do every day, then it isn't going to work out. Honestly, I'm not always going to have all the answers. I need people who are okay with that.
I hire people who are willing to take risks. Willing to make mistakes and learn something from them. That testing mentality is extremely important.
Are there are any downsides to hiring this way?
There will always be mistakes and learning experiences. New hires make mistakes. That's just a fact of life.
But you can anticipate the mistakes they'll make and place a safety net around them, so those initial mistakes aren't devastating. For example, our team puts campaign budgets in place to make sure new hires don't spend over a certain amount. And we don't immediately hand them a huge budget. We may cap a new campaign budget at $500 until they get used to the platform and become comfortable with changing bids and other processes.
Without fail, all of our team members have made some kind of mistake. Honestly, I have as well. In my previous position at One Kings Lane, I once spent $20,000 on a campaign before my manager caught my mistake. I thought it was driving transactions, so I didn't really pay much attention to the overall cost. On a daily basis, it didn't look like a big problem--but I wasn't looking at the big picture. Over the course of a week, it became a huge expense.
That was a good, but difficult, learning experience. I think it's important to make mistakes initially so you can learn from them and avoid a similar situation when it may be even more costly.
Now that we've covered the challenges, what is the biggest benefit?
It's not all mistakes. Being new to a channel has its perks. Someone who has no idea what they're doing initially will be more open to exploring and figuring things out. They don't have any preconceived notions about how something has to happen.
Sometimes, people who have a few years of experience aren't as receptive to doing things in new ways. That's not always true, but I can tell my team is constantly pushing boundaries and testing because they're trying to figure out what else the platform can do. They're trying to see what they can make work.
Whereas someone who has been working in paid marketing for years will probably do things in a very set way.
How do the employees you hire without experience feel about their situation? Are they excited? Worried? How do you prepare them?
There's no formal training. It's all done on the job. They start working on campaigns the first day after their orientation. We sit down with them, show them the tools, and help them create an ad. We drop them in hot water and let them learn, make mistakes, and figure out what works.
And within the first week, they're launching their own ads and driving conversions.
I think they enjoy having a lot of responsibility and trust. They're immediately spending money on different channels, and for someone who joins us right out of college, that's really exciting. It's a little scary, too. But they get to own their position and make a difference. They can look at where they've spent the money and see a direct impact on sales and growth for the company.
They also have the freedom to test, try new things, make mistakes. I'm not going to tell them exactly what to do. I'm always there to help, but I trust them to do their job well. And so far, that system of training and placing trust in inexperienced (but smart) hires has worked out really well.