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11th March, 2020

Only hiring experienced staff – is there an alternative? by Harry Galley

I don’t recruit CV’s. I recruit people. It begs the question; ‘why do companies hire based on experience and not personality, aptitude and attitude?’

Like most things in recruitment, it’s subjective. It depends on the situation. Although it would be wrong to tar all companies with the same brush there’s a consensus from candidates I speak to who want to change sectors that “they just can’t get a chance”. I think it is equally as daunting for a lot of companies to hire someone with no experience as it is for someone with no experience to break into a company who have specific criteria to be hired. 

With the ever increasing skills shortage it is getting harder for companies to find staff with the ‘right’ skill set. We all know the benefits of a culturally diverse work force.  Why shouldn’t we apply this principle to experience and skills?  A lack of industry specific knowledge will have some initial drawbacks – it is going to take time, money, and patience to train people up.  But there are some major benefits for companies prepared to take a calculated risk and hire candidates with less or no industry experience though… 

When a company takes a chance on someone with less experience there’s a level of gratitude that’s reciprocated. Job seekers know you’ve taken a chance on them and will work hard to validate your faith in them. This builds commitment, trust and loyalty. They feel like they owe you something on a personal level.

There’s also a greater willingness to learn as they appreciate they’re coming in with less knowledge than their colleagues and need to prove themselves capable. More experienced candidates may have bad habits from previous roles, or an unwillingness to adopt your way of doing things, preferring to fall back on how they worked the role at their previous company.  Even a mind-set that the company needs them more than they need the company. Someone with no experience will come into the role knowing they need to work hard and learn quickly, and in most cases will be eager to take in all the information they can get about how you do things and your expectations.

They’ll also be different to your current employees in the respect that they have the potential to bring innovation to the company.  If they had the kind of mentality and personality to convince you to hire them with no experience then the chances are they’ll have ideas and previous experience they can bring which could benefit the company and the role.  More experienced staff may just go through the motions. They’re not coming in with insights from varied roles or industries.  

Hiring staff with less experience can be cost effective. More experienced staff are going to demand higher salaries and want more benefits to the role. I’ve never had a candidate with less experience turn down a role they’ve been offered. They’re less likely to receive a similar opportunity elsewhere, and less likely to accept a counter offer from their current employer as their reason for leaving is due to wanting the new opportunity that you are providing, not a higher salary/benefits/promotion, etc.  They’re also generally more loyal and stay longer as you’re giving them a unique opportunity to develop their skills and grow with your company, thus reducing your recruitment costs in the longer term.

No experience isn’t necessarily better. It’s different. Sometimes different can be good.

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