How Much Can You Rely on Experience?

  • By Mike M
  • February 2022

Eexperience 300x171 1xperience … if it’s important to success, you count on it!

The question is, how much can you trust it?

Naturally, you want to find a good person for the job.  Below average performers are a drain on the company.  The hiring process is painful enough you don’t want to repeat it (not to mention the potential cost of re-training, lost productivity, etc.).

Part of your tactic is to look for any reliable bits of information you can find in the resume. You realize that’s a shot in the dark since resumes can be “loaded” with the right terms; but this is the information you have to work with.  So you scan work history, glance at the jobs they’ve had, the roles they’ve filled, and the work they’ve done.

In the back of your mind you’re trying to get a sense of their experience.  After all, if they’ve done it before, they should be able to do it again – right!?

Here’s the problem:

Experience does not always translate into expertise.

Here’s why:

  1. An applicant may have done the work – but poorly. So rather than improving, they’ve really been developing bad habits.
  2. An applicant may have had some of the skills – but little interest in their work. So unless they were naturally motivated to do what they were doing, they won’t be any more engaged in the work you have to offer.
  3. An applicant may have a background in your industry, but without the right characteristics, they may very well fail in the role you give them. Simply put, not every position is the same.

Matt Charney, Editor in Chief at Recruiting Daily, sees no correlation between expertise and experience. He backs it up with an example: MasterCard has dropped “years” from their job descriptions.

You may consider this an extreme view. Even so, there is a risk in reading too much into “Experience”.

What can we do about it?  Back to what’s missing in the information we receive from applicants.

If you knew your applicant was truly motivated in the past, you could count on them repeating the same behaviors in the future. Otherwise, there is no guarantee!  (You would also have an idea if they have the natural ability to thrive in their new position – that’s the power of personality-based motivation.)

The point is, it’s possible to know all this ahead of time, before you hire – even before you start interviews! Here’s how:

a. Identify the characteristics required for top performance in the position.

b. Have each applicant complete an assessment which measures those same characteristics.

c. Compare those 2 important pieces of information – before you look at resumes.

The difference is tangible. It impacts:

  • Resume reading: besides the fact you can start with the resumes of those who “fit” the job (big time savings!), you now have a way to filter the information you scan. Was all they did in the past just to put in time? or get a paycheck? Or is there a chance they enjoyed what they did because it was natural to them? We need to know this!
  • Interviews: instead of trying to “read their personality” (while you listen to their tone of voice or read their body language), you can set that aside, and focus on things like how well they have developed their skills.
  • Reference checks: you can focus on other important factors … like character.

As with many parts of the hiring process, experience is an “intangible”. The good news is there’s a “measurable” you can use to reduce the guess-work in the hiring process.

If you’re interested, here is a product to consider which applies all the above: TRAITS for Hiring.

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