Why Hiring For Experience Is BS

I think recruitment agencies and firms are going a bit crazy when crafting job specs these days. It’s amazing the number of times I’ve clicked on seemingly entry-level/low-experience roles (i.e “Analyst”, “Associate” or “Junior”) and read:

  • 10+ years experience, ideally at an insane tech or consulting firm
  • A deep technical understanding of all topics vaguely related to the role
  • Capable of working cross-functionally with every single stakeholder
  • Having a strong customer focus and exceptional communication skills
  • Essentially you must have done this exact role elsewhere already
  • Created your own unicorn and been to space — why not?

Personally, I think focusing on experience is not the optimal strategy to attract and acquire the best talent around.

Let’s say you have a 40-year-old and a 25-year-old. Now based on this ‘experience’ mindset, we would have to assume that the 40-year-old is a ‘better’ human (based on things like morals/ethics/values, skills and wisdom) but this is most definitely not the case. Firstly, we are assuming that the 40 year-old has been in more learning scenarios/moments but in this modern world, we know that millennials are learning and gaining exposure at an immense rate. Secondly, even if we assume the 40-year-old did have more ‘wisdom points’, there’s no guarantee that the way they go about life is correct — it’s just that they’ve spent longer forming an opinion and essentially just ‘rinse-repeat’ every day for the most part. This analogy can be applied to the world of work.

Even though the 40-year-old may have almost five times the ‘experience’, it certainly does not mean their attitude, work ethic, skills, opinion or potential is better/greater in any way. All we can guarantee is that they have lived 15 years longer.

As such, I feel companies should place greater weightage on the two following characteristics:

1. Drive & Potential

When I’m more ‘experienced’ and I’m interviewing candidates for a role, I would look out for daily hunger and drive on their resume. They should making the most out of every moment and expanding their skill-set at a rapid rate through personal projects/hobbies. If someone is applying for a software engineering role, I would want to see what they do outside the office hours during which they’re simply completing ‘run-of-the-mill’ tasks for the typical promotion but not going above and beyond. Someone might have spent 5–10 years at a firm just getting by and being good enough to not be fired. Naturally, they will be given responsibility and greater budgets but these numbers on a resume don’t have much more substance beyond that.

2. Emotional Quotient

Strong candidates should have high emotional quotient and be very mindful of their actions by placing themselves in the receiver’s shoes at all times. The number of times I’ve received an email with my name spelt wrong, observed previous managers forgetting meetings and experienced condescension is unreal! It’s amazing how 15–20 years of ‘experience’ have gone by but the word ‘empathy’ has still not been added to their dictionary. But those years have definitely helped inflate their head which doesn’t help the colleagues around and more importantly the firm.

I can guarantee you that I will feel the same way 15–20 years from now and would hope that I receive offers based on my drive, potential and emotional quotient rather than the number of years I’ve been alive. But if you don’t believe me, I guess I’m just going to have to write an article then to confirm!

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Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge

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Akhil Sonthi

Akhil Sonthi

Tech Enthusiast | Entrepreneur | Music Artist | MEng @ Cambridge

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