Training ‘Talent’ (I)

January 2, 2014 2 mins read

After a period of time in the industry, many headhunters will run into an awkward fact: Though there are good job opportunities, there is a shortage of suitable human talent. Real ‘talent’ is found only at the tip of the pyramid—but what about the masses underneath? This is an extremely common problem.

Under the influence of the country’s current education system and prevailing attitudes, in China, the concept and definition of ‘talent’ sometimes doesn’t match up with what headhunters are actually looking for. As a result of the fact that everyone shares a unified standard of appraisal—that is, academic grades—in the eyes of a Chinese, the neighbor’s kids are always more outstanding, more excellent. The majority of parents use only this one criterion, and kids in these households are actually relatively lucky—as long as they put forth a certain effort towards their studies and get relatively decent grades, their parents are happy. In other households, a more comprehensive set of criteria is employed (including musical instruments, foreign languages, etc.). Kids in these families face a more diversified type of pressure from their homework load.

No parents, however, compare their children’s basketball or soccer skills. This is because they have nothing to do with school tests, and in the eyes of parents are just extracurricular sports. As the parents see it, their kid will never become the next Yao Ming (or someone even more outstanding than Yao Ming). This, however, begs the question: Does having excellent piano skills mean their kid can be the next Lang Lang or Li Yundi? Every CV has an optional space for talking about interests and hobbies, though few people actually fill it out. Even of those who do, however, how many actually write down their real interests and hobbies? Most “interests” are just products of parents’ coercion. In the workplace, do these things actually carry any weight?

Marlon Mai's picture
Marlon Mai
Managing Director, Greater China