Change the Way You Hire Part 2: Years of Experience is Overrated

Thanks for coming back for part 2 of this series. If you have not already, please check out Change the Way You Hire Part 1: Am I Qualified.

Would you rather have an employee with two years of experience but has demonstrated the ability to handle more complex tasks over time, or someone with five years of experience at the same level? The answer should be obvious but it is often ignored. Experience is used as a filter in the hiring process and it could be a reason that you have trouble attracting great talent.

The bulk of the information learned to perform a specific job is learned in the first or second year. After that, years of experience become negligible. As years of experience get even higher, it can almost be counterproductive because old habits die hard and many people become complacent in their roles over time.

It is amusing when a job asks for ten years of experience when we live in an age where job roles change all the time. Not to mention that if you require a master’s degree and ten years of experience you are eliminating an entire age bracket from your candidate pool. Talented people often change job roles or specializations out of need or curiosity. The good thing is that if you recognize and don’t hinder top performers, they will usually stay in your organization and provide a wide range of value.

The next time you post a job, try stating experience as a maximum number of years of experience and see what happens to your candidate pool.

When hiring, look for individuals that have always been top performers in their respective areas. Look for fast learners and individuals that are flexible when it comes to learning new skills and taking on new responsibilities. This is often indicated by multiple promotions or changes in job title.

Tim Howell is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!).

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