It’s the age-old conundrum faced by hiring managers and recruiters the world over – is experience more valuable than fresh talent and potential?
There was a time not too long ago that experience trumped raw talent each and every time. A time when candidates who had spent years or even decades in the industry would know that their experience would give them a considerable head start on graduates fresh out of college.
However, in recent years we have seen more employers investing in potential and ‘taking a chance’ on fresh talent as opposed to sticking with the old pros.
But does that mean that fresh talent is better than experience? Or are these employers making a mistake they’ll rue in years to come?
With as many as86% of employers admitting that they have hired the wrong person for the role, the question of experience vs. talent has never been more relevant.
Of course, you likely have your own opinion on the matter, but before we share ours let’s first take a look at what both types of candidate bring to the table.
What you get when you hire experienced candidates
It’s no secret that an experienced candidate will usually carry a wealth of industry knowledge. This is the knowhow they picked up in the field, overcoming obstacles as and when they came across them.
In a nutshell, it’s something you simply cannot learn in a classroom or lecture hall, and it’s an attribute that could make them an invaluable team member.
Experienced candidates often tend to take the lead particularly when a team needs direction or lacks motivation. They’ve been there and done that (see above) and are confident in their ability to make the right decision for the team.
It’s also worth noting that if you’re hiring for a leadership role, experience is often a major advantage. Their track record (more on that later) is a good indicator of how they handle managing people, but that’s not all. It’s not unusual to find that employees react more positively to a leader with experience in the industry even if that experience is not actually in a leadership role.
A track record
A verifiable track record in the industry adds a layer of security to a new hire. It’s pretty much the standard barometer by which we judge a candidate’s suitability to a role.
No, it’s not perfect, but knowing a candidate’s achievements in a previous role does give us a reasonably good idea of how successful we can expect them to be.
Onboarding is an essential part of a new employee’s integration, but depending on the role, it can sometimes take quite a while to get a new hire up to speed.
With all that industry knowledge and experience, you can be pretty sure that your new hire will breeze through the onboarding process. And that means that they can make a tangible contribution sooner rather than later.
What you get when you opt for fresh talent
Raw recruits with little experience in the industry are often looking to make their mark. This makes them more likely to take calculated risks in their work. This may not sound like an ideal scenario, but a risk-taking attitude can lead to more innovative ideas and fresh perspectives on old processes which brings us to our next point.
New hires with little or no work experience are uninhibited by the old-school rules. They shun the ‘we’ve always done it that way’ code of practice and will often find their own path. This means that they’re more likely to speak up in meetings and make suggestions that more established team members may not have thought of.
Strangely enough, this attribute is sometimes considered a sign of being overly confident when in truth, it’s merely a fresh perspective that challenges the norm. And we should embrace this freshness whenever we encounter it.
Hard work (and lots of it)
Employees who are new to an industry will put in the effort to make sure that their work is up to scratch. They have a hunger to succeed in their new role and will pull out all the stops to hit their targets and may even exceed expectations in some cases.
An added benefit to this type of work activity is that it’s infectious and your current team members may feel motivated to match their new colleague’s efforts.
While this may not be true for all raw recruits, generally speaking, new hires that know you invested in their potential will feel grateful. You gave them an opportunity to shine when perhaps others wouldn’t, and this could result in them feeling a sense of loyalty to the company.
This loyalty combined with the excitement they feel at learning new skills and striving towards their career goals should see them stay in the role for the foreseeable future. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
How to choose between the two
Now that we understand the benefits both experience and raw talent brings to your workforce, it’s time to decide which is best for your company or the role in question.
But here’s the twist; you actually need both.
You see diversity is everything.
Did you know that according toa white paper released by Cloverpop, a diverse and inclusive workforce makes better collective decisions than an individual 87% of the time?
Even better is the fact that a recent study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that companies with a diverse management team reported 19% higher revenue due to innovation.
When we talk about a diverse workforce, we generally refer to gender and cultural diversity, but having a healthy mix of both experienced and raw recruits is just as important.
While leadership roles may be the exception, it’s a good idea to take a look at the current workforce and see what’s lacking.
If your team is full of fresh talent that have minimal experience in the workplace, then perhaps an old hand is needed to steady the ship. Conversely, if your team has decades of service in the industry, then a raw recruit with fresh ideas could be just what you need to reenergize the team and promote that all-important innovative thinking.
So the answer to which is best? We’d have to say that both are equally important.
Just remember that the next time you’re hiring for a role, try to keep an open mind. While that old pro could be the perfect counterbalance for your maverick team, the raw recruit in the waiting room could well prove to be your next rockstar employee.