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Experience Counts For Nada

Having worked in recruitment my entire career (22 years), and placed a few candidates and worked on a few roles over that period, one thing has become blindingly obvious and that is that previous “years” of experience in a particular area is a very poor indicator of someone’s future success in that area and certainly does not guarantee they will be a great employee.

It is my belief that companies and hiring managers could benefit massively by making their businesses more systems dependent and less people dependent.

“Just because a candidate has X amount of experience in a particular area does not guarantee they will be a great employee.”

In my experience, managers that are willing to employ less experienced candidates (that have the best attitudes) get infinitely better results than those that are reliant on sourcing candidates with X amount of experience.

Now, I know and appreciate that some careers simply must have a certain qualification or base level of expertise. There is no amount of positive attitude and motivation that is going to help someone conduct brain surgery without the proper skills and experience.

However the reality is that there are very few careers that require this type of “essential” knowledge to be successful.

The E – Myth is a series of books written by Michael E. Gerber. Gerber rightly points out repeatedly in his books that the best businesses, big and small, are systems dependent, not people dependent. This is by no means meant to underplay the importance of sourcing great people for your business but highlights if you have great systems in place in your business, you can then focus on finding the “right” people for your team as opposed to being reliant on finding the “right” experience.

Gerber tempts the reader to imagine a scenario where the systems in your business are so good you can recruit the best individuals (based on attitude) and not be limited to a small pool of candidates with X amount of experience in Y.

In my industry much is said about “the war for talent”, the importance of building talent pools in niche areas, and finding talent that no one else can find. Much less is said about working with clients proactively to assist them putting robust systems into their business so they can focus on finding “the best people” (attitude based recruitment) as opposed to relying on finding the “the best experience”.

In my experience when a market is relying on finding candidates with a certain type of experience this can create all sorts of ongoing problems, salaries spiraling out of control, needless poaching of candidates from competitor firms, and unnecessary staff turnover.

An alternative approach when recruiting may be the following……

1)     Prepare a formal job description for the new role with lots of detail.

2)     Put systems in place for each part of that job so that when the person starts they have a detailed “User Guide/Operations Manual”. The idea being that you can recruit someone with a base level of experience which frees you up in the interview process to focus on someone’s attitude as opposed to their experience.

For those that are willing to put the work in and take this approach they will never have a problem with the so called “war for talent” because they will not be fighting for talent, they will be creating it.



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