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Hiring for Potential Vs Experience: Why Should You Look for Candidates with No Experience?

For business
Mar 24, 2023
Hiring for Potential Vs Experience: Why Should You Look for Candidates with No Experience?

A certain amount of prior work experience is a mandatory requirement for a candidate in most job postings. Many managers are reluctant to hire inexperienced employees, as these people need to be trained before they can add value to the company. But by only considering candidates with previous work experience, managers significantly reduce the flow of applicants for a vacancy and risk missing out on the candidate they need. Is work experience a mandatory requirement for recruitment, or is a specialist with high potential also worth giving a chance to?

Let's take a look at why employers prefer to hire candidates with work experience while by and large ignoring the potential in inexperienced job seekers. It’s generally assumed that a person with experience in a particular position not only has the theoretical knowledge necessary for the job but also knows how to successfully apply it in practice to achieve the desired results. The thought is this kind of person should be able to start working immediately, in which case the company does not need to spend time and resources on training them. But this is not always the case.

Often HR screens candidates who do not have the skills necessary to perform the job’s tasks, despite previous experience in a similar position. This is especially true for people who have worked in large companies. When managers see the name of a large international company in a candidate's resume, they assume the candidate must have the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the role. But in a large company, a person can hide their own incompetence and lack of work results behind the achievements of other people. Someone can fake their work activity for years and never acquire the skills necessary for true success. The fact that a candidate has previous work experience does not guarantee that the person has the necessary professional skills.

Why Is It Worth Hiring Employees with High Potential and Zero Experience?

If everything is more or less smooth sailing with an experienced and highly qualified specialist, hiring a promising employee without experience seems like a clear loss to many HR departments. In reality, however, this is not the case at all—hiring for potential is a great strategy. Let’s take a look at why this is the case.

It Expands Your Search Options

When you are hiring for the best candidate with an eye on their potential—and not just someone who has a full set of all the required competencies and experience—you significantly expand your opportunities (in fact, several times over). Besides, the chances are good when you take this approach that you will hire someone with a nonstandard approach to problem-solving—for example, a specialist who has just changed careers but still has experience in other areas.

Inexperienced Professionals Are More Flexible

For people with experience and ingrained habits, it tends to be harder to learn something new; they still perceive new techniques and technologies through the lens of their past experience. At the same time, employees with high potential, yet without experience in a particular area, are open to everything new. As a result, they can often learn quickly, and they usually enjoy the process.

They Often Bring a New Look

People with high potential often bring fresh perspectives to business, which can lead to possible new directions and smarter approaches. In fact, inexperienced employees with high potential can sometimes be the ones to come up with the best ideas.

They Increase Overall Employee Engagement

A candidate’s experience and suitability for the position are not all you need to consider to make a good hire; these are just the baseline criteria. Having a desire and ability to study further and master new technologies, being flexible, and wanting to be involved are all qualities that are no less important for any professional to grow. As a rule, people with less experience are more flexible, they learn easier and faster, they try harder to be involved, and they have higher potential.

You Can Hire Faster

If you only focus on hiring candidates with relevant experience while ignoring inexperienced specialists with high potential, you will significantly extend the hiring process. Plus, an experienced candidate will most likely demand a higher salary, meaning you will have to compete for them. Hiring a candidate with no experience instead can help you close the job requisition faster.

You Are Working for the Future

If you want not just to hire a person now and close your vacancy but also help them grow and develop, your candidate must have room for growth. When your employee goes through different stages of development with the company, in addition to gaining new experience, it strengthens their loyalty. At the same time, an experienced person runs the risk of getting stuck in their own development, perhaps not having any room for further growth. An experienced employee can quickly get bored, and often the only way to fix this is to change companies—and sooner or later your experienced employee will do exactly that. When you evaluate a candidate, it is very important to evaluate their potential for growth and their desire to learn and develop further.

It Creates Career Opportunities

In order for your employees with little-to-no experience to grow and develop in their positions, you need to create the right set of conditions in your company so they can realize their potential. Create the opportunity to attend courses, give your people the tools they need to develop their professional skills, help them develop a development plan, offer them coaching, and reward them with awards and career opportunities. If you do it correctly, the results will be incredibly effective.

How to Hire for Potential

Hiring for potential means moving from assessing experience and skills to assessing for future success, and that requires changing your approach. First, you need to abandon the rigid idea that a candidate must fully meet all criteria, including skills in working with particular tools and technologies. This line of thinking will delay the search process and greatly narrow the range of possible candidates. There can be quite a lot of promising specialists with high potential among inexperienced applicants.

Eliminating strict requirements for experience is not a reduction in hiring standards, however. On the contrary, it means you are betting not on instant results (most likely you will have to wait for high-quality results) but on the path to it.

At the same time, when you hire for potential, you must create conditions that will allow the candidate to grow in their position. That is, a person must have the opportunity to study via courses or undergo an internship, for example. 

In addition, your requirements for hiring a candidate without experience should be clearly formulated and include things like:

  • A detailed description of the work to be performed in the role and the necessary deliverables.
  • The knowledge and skills required to perform the job (with an understanding that some or all of them will need to be mastered in the future).
  • The minimum skills and knowledge an applicant must have.
  • The amount of time a candidate has to settle in and obtain the required skills.
  • The skills a new employee must master.

When compiling your requirements for a candidate, clearly formulate who you are ready to accept and train and who isn’t suitable in any case. This will save both you and your candidates a great deal of time and effort.

Holding a contest or a hackathon is another good idea when looking for promising candidates with high potential. The winners of such a competition show that they are ready to grow and develop and have the ability and potential for a new role, which can make them ideal candidates.

It is also worth taking into account the cultural fit of a person, as this also impacts their potential for success within the company.

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