Hire someone with no experience! Wait, what?

I’m going to make a pretty aggressive point here that many people will disagree with, and that is counter to pretty much all common practice in hiring today. Bear with me for a moment.
You have a job opening, posted the job and you’re getting resumés. Awesome. Now what do most hiring managers and recruiters do? They pick the resumés of people who already have a ton of experience with the kind of job you’re hiring for. Ideally, they’re doing that exact job right now in a similar industry or a competitor. Perfect. They already know the business and the tools, vendors, audience, challenges, opportunities, etc. and they’ll get up to speed in no time.
But, if you ask me (and even if you don’t), there is a huge problem: they’re not motivated. Sure, somebody who already does this job might go for the higher compensation, the easier commute, maybe even a slightly better title or just a change of scenery… and yet, aside from those external factors, what possibly is their motivation to do this job really well? They’ve literally been there and done that. Just as you are thinking that they have all the experience to smoothly transition in, they think the same thing. This is going to be easy, because they can do this job blind. Most likely they are currently doing that job with 50% off their capacity and they will when they work for you… because there is no challenge in it. Not in their old job, and, aside from a few weeks of acclimatization, there isn’t any challenge in their/your new job either.
Every time I see a job posting in my field, in our company or elsewhere, I think of some younger, hungry, aggressive, smart people I know who would do such a great job in that kind of position, that’s technically a little too big for them. Why? Because they’ll put 150% effort into it, learn every detail of the job, half out of appetite to impress and learn, half out of (a positive) anxiety of failing. Sure there is some risk in them drowning in their new responsibility, but that’s not really such a highly likely outcome if you think about it, and they have you, the much more experienced leader, to keep them on track and guide them. Ultimately, while it’s a hassle, you can always make changes to your org if it really doesn’t work out, or in other words: it ain’t a marriage.
So let me ask you this: Why do we insist on years and years of experience and not focus on the massive benefits of challenging our future outstanding employees by getting them into shoes that are a bit too big for them but they can grow into, and instead sustain a culture of status quo and standstill for the majority of our workforce? And even if we go with a candidate who is slightly under-qualified, we’ll say “oh well, let’s give them a break/a chance” as if the risk is entirely on our side and the best outcome is just that they don’t fail. Meanwhile media and fiction is filled with inspiring stories of people fulfilling their destinies and making it through obstacles they’ve never faced before, winning the day against all odds… but in professional life we totally play it safe. It’s a bit like going to a roulette table and betting on black and red at the same time. No risk, no reward.
My challenge to all leaders hiring today is this: hire someone with less experience than you think they should have, but who is motivated, challenged, ready to go, smart, willing, aggressive and wants to impress themselves and you. Hire someone like that even if they have no industry experience. Hire someone in your company who is two levels below this position if they’re great. Throw them in the cold water (but teach them to swim). You’ll get a completely new point of view from somebody who isn’t jaded by bubble thinking and keeps the rest of your teams on their toes (by the way interesting talk on this by Bai founder Ben Weiss). Not only will you be responsible for advancing a potential future business leader, but you most likely will get a hard working, dedicated employee with a fresh perspective who will not rest until the job is done (and by the way, often for a lot less money).


Article Written by: Robbie W.

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