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Is Experience Overrated in the Hiring Process?

Mar 2022 by FRANK HOJGAARD

When it comes to hiring new employees, we all have our own unique processes and formulas that we like to use. However, in many cases, our processes are actually outdated and no longer as effective as they once were.

 

 

 

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Why Experience Might be Overrated

If you spend some time scanning job boards or speaking with recruiters and hiring managers across different industries or organizations, you’ll find that they’re all desperately looking for one thing above all else: experience.

You’ll see and hear things like:

“Minimum of two years experience required…”

“Looking for an experienced individual…”

“Currently seeking someone with five years of technical experience…”

“Must have existing experience to apply…”

Experience, experience, experience – it seems to be the gold standard that everyone uses to measure value, potential, and competence. Without experience, people are viewed as unqualified or unfit. With experience, the assumption is that someone can move mountains.

On the surface, experience seems like an important factor (and maybe even the most important factor) in a hiring decision. After all, when someone has experience, there’s an assumption that they already know what they’re doing. At the very least, they won’t have to be trained or have their hand held. But you know what they say about assumptions, don’t you? (That’s a rhetorical question, by the way).

Experience does matter, but it’s unwise to consider it the be-all or end-all of hiring. Just because someone has done a certain type of work in the past doesn’t always mean they’re good at doing it (or that they enjoy doing it). People often fall into certain career paths or obtain positions out of convenience rather than fit. Someone can be in a position for years, but never really excel in the job or have any natural talent in the position. If you turn around and hire them based on their years of experience, you won’t be getting the person you thought you were hiring.

 

The Case for Hiring Talent Over Experience

We’re not saying that experience is irrelevant or that you should purposefully go out of your way to not hire someone with experience. Instead, we’re saying that there’s something much more valuable to look for. We’re talking about talent, of course.

As a professor of finance and economics, Gene Detroyer says, “I have been in business for more than 40 years and very early on I found that talent eats experience for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”

It’s not that experience doesn’t matter. It’s that experience is overrated and talent is severely underrated. Ideally, you get someone who has both experience and talent. But when faced with a choice, always choose talent over experience. It wins every single time.

Here are some reasons to adopt a talent-first mentality with hiring:

Fewer poor habits. In fast-moving industries, people aren’t always equipped with the right training or foundational concepts. They’re forced to learn on the fly. So while they are experienced, this experience doesn’t always correlate to being proficient in their respective roles.

When you hire someone with experience, much of the first few months are spent helping them “unlearn” the bad habits they’ve picked up along the way. This can take several months and can be quite a painful process. (Experienced professionals get frustrated when they’re told something they’ve been doing for years is wrong.)

When you hire someone without experience, you don’t have to worry about all of the bad habits they may have picked up along the way. There’s no “I know it all” mentality. On the contrary, there’s typically a willingness to learn.

Blank slate. Employees without a ton of experience come to you with a blank slate. This allows you to download them with all of the information, skills, and thought processes that you believe are most important. There’s no need to clear out the junk in their heads or unlearn processes. This blank slate leads to quicker learning and much faster solidification of key concepts.

Deeper pool of candidates. If you’re looking for someone with 10 years of industry experience, your pool of qualified applicants is going to be very small. But if you’re willing to throw experience out the window and hire based on talent, the world is your oyster. You might increase your pool of candidates by 10X or even 20X (making it more likely that you find someone who is right for the job).

You’ll face less competition. Every other company is looking for experienced people. If you’re fishing out of the same pond, you’re going to face stiff competition. But if you switch to a talent-first mentality, you face far less competition. This allows you to hire the people you want to hire (and prevents you from getting in a bidding war with other companies). In short, you gain all of the leverage in the hiring process.

Greater loyalty. When someone without a ton of experience gets hired for a position that typically requires years of experience, it makes a huge impression on them. They feel like you’re taking a chance on them and will typically respond with more loyalty and gratitude toward the company than someone who feels like you’re lucky to have them there. This simple shift can lead to a stronger company culture, less turnover, and greater continuity among your staff.

 

Recruit and Train Talent With Readynez

At Readynez, we look at recruiting and hiring differently than almost everyone else. While experience isn’t irrelevant, it’s no match for talent. And when it comes to hiring within your organization, we’re committed to adopting a talent-first posture.

Your ability to be ready for the future is highly dependent on your access to talent. And with Readynez, you can close the gap with proven solutions that allow you to recruit and train talent for today’s demanding digital jobs. Curious for more? Read Here and Reach out to learn more!

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