A Harvard Business Review study found that 82% of sampled job advertisements either required or stated a strong preference for experience. Although organisations may hire based on past work experience or qualifications, these aren’t guaranteed indicators of how well a candidate will perform in a new organisation and role.
Often, the idea behind the philosophy of hiring this way is that experience begets knowledge and skills required for the role. However, because experiential metrics used by organisations vary, these aren’t valid indicators of a candidate’s potential to excel, reports Professor Chad Van Iddekinge, of Florida State University, in a paper published in Personnel Psychology.
Screening resumes for experience is intuitive but you may be missing out on some stellar candidates. By separating the notion that experience equals proficiency in hiring practices, you can begin to interview candidates for these reasons:
1. They exhibit potential
Checking for experience is a clear-cut process: Does the candidate have knowledge of programming languages? Have they managed a team before? Hiring for growth potential is less obvious and depends on a host of factors. This manifests in various forms, from personal attributes such as the ability to work in teams to proficiencies in other related fields.
They may not be the ideal candidate today or possess all the hard requirements of the position you’re trying to fill, but they may have certain qualities and skills that make them a long-term fit for your organisation.
These candidates may require a little more time to get up to speed, but with on-the-job training, they’ll be ready to hit the ground running.
2. They possess transferable skills
Candidates with no work experience commonly refer to fresh graduates but they may also be professionals making a mid-career switch. Apart from experience, you can look into their transferable skills.
Transferable skills can be utilised across roles and aren’t company or function-specific. This can include soft skills such as effective communication and problem-solving, as well as a mix of hard and soft ones like project or team management.
Compared to technical skills such as data analysis, coding, or accounting, transferable skills can be assets across functions and industries. They are also developed throughout the course of the career or part of one’s personal attributes.
Looking at transferable skills could open up a pool of high potential candidates that display a willingness to get up to speed quickly.
3. They’ll learn to be adaptable
Not only are these candidates proactive, but they are also likely to display a higher degree of adaptability.
A candidate with years of experience in the given role may be set in their ways of thinking and working. They’re likely to have developed a personal set of habits, processes, and culture that may be harder to budge from compared to a candidate who is new to the industry.
Candidates with no experience are compelled to be flexible and motivated to impact change. Training them to adopt your company’s processes or methods may be easier. Plus, they’re more likely to be receptive to future change depending on what the organisation needs.
4. They bring fresh perspectives
Candidates with no prior experience come with no expectations around how things should be done. They may try new approaches, especially when they have to learn the ropes of a new industry and apply what they’ve gathered from other industries.
As these candidates aren’t constrained by best practices or previous experience, they will reimagine solutions by looking at them from a different perspective, incorporate different methods, and drop cookie-cutter approaches.
By hiring based on such potential, you’ll be tapping into a more diverse pool of candidates who can bring innovative and fresh ideas to your organisation. Progression often relies on fresh ways of thinking, so the ability to think out of the box is something that occurs when they’re pushed beyond their comfort zone.
Work experience is still a valuable metric for hiring processes. It may even be necessary for certain job roles, especially middle management or senior positions that require hard, technical skills. However, there are more ways than one to measure and qualify a candidate’s suitability for a role, and hiring for potential could be that.