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Avinash Kaushik on Hiring for Digital Careers

Avinash Kaushik is an Indian entrepreneur and author, and he’s also has a successful blog that is packed full of business insights, marketing tips, and an active conversation with his readers. One of his readers asked an interesting question that will resonate with many leaders:

Is it better to hire and train a really bright, freshly minted college grad, or does the extra value returned by someone who’s been a web business analyst for several year merit the extra expense?

Avinash, who will be speaking at NBFSweden and NBFNorway 2019, claims that there is an easy answer and a correct answer to this question.

The easy answer is: it depends. If you’re hiring for a position that requires experience, then Avinash says you should choose the experienced candidate. A bus driver who needs a background check and years of safe driving under his belt, a Space Shuttle pilot who needs extensive training and a proven history of success, and an experienced carpenter with the skills to handle advanced machinery should all get the job over someone who is just out of school.

Digital careers, however, are different.

It’s a relatively new, young field of work and it’s constantly evolving at a rapid pace. What’s new now is old quickly (and sometimes it seem the old is “new” again). Avinash explains that this calls for a stunning amount of flexibility from people whose job it is to analyze anything digital. It requires an atypical ability to let go of the past experiences and learned behaviors quickly so as to understand the new in a new way rather than taking the old known square pegs and try fit them in new round holes.

On the web, specifically for analysis of this interesting medium, experience counts for something. But in the grand scheme not as much as it used to. He claims that there are four important criteria that new digital career hires need to fulfill:

  1. They actually “get” the web – live and breathe it – and understand how quickly trends can appear and disappear. Avinash says that, without an ability to “get” the web, the candidate is unlikely to help you “get” website visitors and meaningful insights.
  2. They are inherently flexible and open to new things. Bonus points if they demonstrate improving old methods for new mindsets in their previous employment! This is critical for companies to see an evolution in their web analytics and understand the latest measurement opportunities.
  3. They understand that change will not kill them. This is less about being flexible to change and more about being ready for the future; most people fear change and, according to Avinash, the right hire should be willing to plan for the future while dealing with the (potentially volatile) present. When the only constant in the web measurement space may be its changeability, hire the person who wants to build out a team/skills to prepare for what comes next.
  4. They are critical thinkers. This one is a must – you want an analyst, not a report writer, right? It doesn’t matter if someone is flipping burgers at McDonald’s or doing advanced statistical analysis, this is a personality type. Look for it.

As Avinash outlines, he can’t “teach” any of the above four requirements, so recruiters need to consciously look for these traits when assessing candidates for digital careers. In his experience, people are either “hardwired” for these aspects or they’re not.

So if that was the easy answer, what is the right answer? Is it better to pay more for an experienced person or hire a freshly minted grad (and presumably pay less)?

According to Avinash, it depends on one important criterion:

“Do you have a strong web analytics program in your company or a person who can provide mentoring / thought leadership? If you don’t have someone who can point the ship and provide guidance then any passionate fresh grads you hire will wither.”

To all the leaders out there, would you agree? 

Interested to see Avinash speak live? Get your tickets to see him at NBFNorway on May 9th!

See Avinash at NBFNorway 2019


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