Experience vs. Attitude: Which Gets You Hired?

Experience vs. Attitude: Which Gets You Hired?
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Experience vs. Attitude: Which Gets You Hired?

  • February 16th, 2015
  • CategoriesBlog

There is an oft-asked question in the realm of business and employment: Should candidates be hired based on their experience or based on their attitude? Employers and hiring managers have widely varying opinions on this matter. At On Line Recruitment and Labour Hire, we see the value of both aspects, and no matter which way your company leans, we’ll work with you to source and select the ideal candidate who fulfils your vision. Today, let’s examine some of the advantages and disadvantages of each aspect.

Hiring for Experience

In many ways, this is the more old-fashioned of the two ideologies. It also tends to be the option with the most tangible “support.” You can see, for instance, that a candidate has spent X number of years with a specific employer, and you can observe the duties they handled, and the role they assumed; all this can be understood from simply looking at the candidate’s CV. In an interview, you can discern even more about the candidate’s experience and skills. But though experience can be tracked in terms of years and responsibilities, how do we really measure experience?

Do 10 years of employment directly equate to 10 times greater experience than one year? What if the candidate held several different jobs? Or took time off for volunteer work? Is one type of experience preferable to another? Is a candidate’s experience only valuable if it directly relates to your company’s industry?

Clearly, it’s a multifaceted subject.

Experience can be a tremendous asset because, no matter the industry, you can assume that a candidate learned the basic skills needed to perform well in a work environment: communication, efficiency, responsibility, meeting deadlines, handling conflict. An interview provides the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into a potential employee’s experience; you can ask about challenges they’ve faced or how they manage crisis situations. This can be imperative to understanding how the candidate’s experience correlates with what will be needed in the position.

Hiring for Attitude

Some clients lean the other way, preferring to hire candidates who may lack experience but who display a positive attitude. These candidates may often be younger and fresh from education, but without significant demonstrated work experience. Or these may be older candidates who have experience in areas very different from the hiring client’s industry. Some view such candidates as mouldable, unjaded individuals who can be oriented and shaped to become fantastic employees. It’s true that those with less job experience will be less likely to arrive with prior biases or rigid working methods. If a company employs proper, extensive induction practices, this, combined with ongoing training, can help lay the groundwork so that a staff member can learn the specific policies, procedures, and “feel” of their new employer.

And yet, attitude is also not a quantity that can be fully measured, and it is often not an equal substitute for experience. A candidate may have a great, optimistic outlook, a strong work ethic, and be willing to try anything you put in front of them, but this doesn’t always translate into employable skills. Some candidates may have the ambition, but not the talent. This can be disappointing, but may be the risk you take when hiring solely for attitude.

However, there are countless instances when those with a positive attitude and a lack of experience have gone on to become outstanding employees, even rising in the ranks to head companies and make incredible contributions to the their industries.

It’s Up to You

No matter which way you lean in the hiring process, it’s vital to have processes in place to ensure your employees will thrive. Every organisation should have a proper induction for all new hires, and should provide extended support to those who have less prior experience. This levels the playing field, and makes sure that no matter who you hire, he or she is well-equipped to handle the demands of the role and the company.

Essentially, the decision lies with the client. Weighing both considerations, it’s important to select that candidate whom you feel best “fits” in your organisation’s environment. A candidate whose values and goals align with your company’s vision can be a tremendous asset, and so can a candidate who has years of integral experience. Both bring something positive to the table, and both have the potential to be excellent employees and a great addition to your staff.

Want to know whether hiring for experience or attitude would work best in your business? Contact the team at On Line Recruitment and Labour Hire today to discuss finding the best employment solutions for your needs.

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Written by On Line Recruitment

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