Would YOU Hire Someone Based On Experience Or Potential?

There’s often debate between the two words ‘potential’ or ‘experience’. As employers, you are in a position where you need to hire candidates that are right for the role, but even for the new recruit that doesn’t have an extensive background, if you don’t take the chance in hiring them, how will they gain the experience?

When I was studying Event Management, my background was based in hospitality and working as a checkout operator part time at Woolworths. As you can imagine that did not offer me many open doors for an ‘Event Planner’ position. So I volunteered in events for different companies, built up contacts and references, built a name for myself so to speak, and then before I knew it a company took me on full time based on the portfolio that I had built up. They took a chance on me based on my potential as they could see I was determined to get into the industry and a dedicated worker regardless of whether it was volunteer work or contract work. Even Challenge Consulting took a chance with my new role when my background was in Event Management.

Of course there are roles out there that do require the experience over potential. You can’t hire an IT Manager to someone who has never used a computer before it’s just not realistic. So I do agree that depending on the role it can be subjective, however, I wanted to see what your thoughts were and I have put some of my favourites below:

  • ‘We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done’ – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807 – 1882
  • Past performance is a huge indicator of future performance
  • Both potential an experience play an important role when recruiting, however, the most important thing I look for is ‘fit’, quite often the skills required for a role can be developed.
  • Except if working in a specialised industry or specialised type of work, a worker with potential would be great to have on board, most people have some kind of experience or transferable skills. Hopefully he/she will bring fresh ideas, new blood, different vision, new energy and have all other personal attributes and skills needed for the job e.g. lateral thinking, resourceful, problem solver, enthusiasm, high performer, high achiever, integrity, values and people skills.

An article recently posted on www.recruitmentblogs.com discusses employers hiring ‘University Graduates’ and what employers are looking for as opposed to what they should be looking for in potential candidates:

“In my opinion we need to shift mindsets towards hiring for value and potential rather than just focusing on experience and academic records. I’m sure most of you have heard the old adage, “Who you are is just as important as what you know”. The most objective and accurate method enabling organisations to explore this notion has to be psychometric assessment. In a way psychometric assessments afford organisations the ability to identify candidates that are not only technically capable (what they bring), but also suited in terms of their personality or values alignment (who they are).”

I also looked up an article on insideea.com which asked the same question do we go for experience, or do we go for potential?

‘Many managers I have worked with tend to be risk adverse from a recruitment perspective and go for experience over potential. Experience is perceived to be the safe bet as it is generally easier to assess experience than it is to assess potential. Experience also means new hires can hit the ground running, don’t have to be trained up and hence can add immediate value to the business by (in the short term at least) doing the job they were hired to do. While I can understand this attitude (especially when heads are hard to come by), I believe it is very short sighted, and if done on mass, potentially lethal to a company’s future prosperity. The long term is driven and shaped by ideas, innovation, creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that challenge the status quo which at the very least requires potential. Experience can be acquired over time but not everyone has potential and therefore potential is key.’

So based on what I can gain from the two choices, experience will tend to be the logical choice for a potential candidate, especially in the sense of a specialised role that requires particular skills, however, the modern day manager will not overlook potential, especially if it can bring more to the general outcome of the business and the candidate is going above and beyond instead of just filling a role.

Speaking of modern day managers, perhaps I can pick your brain in my latest poll: Video Resumes: Yay or Nay? to see what your thoughts are on this recent generational evolution. Do you think this will be something that will start taking off in the future?

If you haven’t had the chance to make a comment on this recent blog post, I would love to hear your thoughts.