At Right Source we're constantly searching for and recruiting new talent, and we recently hired both a marketing manager and a writer/content strategist. We looked long and hard for just the right people - months and months of searching - because we are very picky about the quality of new Right Sourcers. But if we were only seeking high-quality staff, we could have hired a writer/content strategist who has written for the very industries we serve. Or plucked a marketing manager with years of experience from some high-tech firm in our Virginia backyard.
But we didn't. We decided that finding people with aptitude, passion, and enthusiasm was worth a LOT more to us than finding someone who had written for a niche industry for 10 years, or had 15 years of agency experience. Yep, it means more work for managers, and probably less productivity for those employees up front, but we think it's worth it in the end.
Why? Here are five reasons to hire for attitude and aptitude versus experience and a lengthy resume.
- Less experienced employees are not yet jaded. Hiring those with only a few years' experience means they likely haven't had as many run-ins with the political back-stabbing, mass layoffs, corporate reorganizations, or personal career disappointment that those with longer resumes might have already endured. Face it, the trials and tribulations of business can leave one a bit jaded, especially after the economic rollercoaster ride of the last decade. Candidates right out of college or with only a few years of experience have yet to experience most of that (at least, we hope). They come to you with optimism about the working world and the difference they can make in it. Now it's your job to show them how rewarding it can be.
- A shorter resume means fewer bad habits. Candidates who come to you with only a few years of experience (or even right out of college) take longer to train and probably can't contribute to the bottom line right away. But seasoned employees can come to you with habits that you have to break or ways of doing things that you have to undo - and that not only takes time, but can disrupt good processes in the meantime. Training people from the ground up means they only know one way of doing things - your way. And they will, in turn, train any other new people to do things that same way.
- Enthusiasm, willingness to learn, and positive attitude are invaluable. Lots of experience sometimes comes with lots of ego. Ego sometimes breeds complacency. And complacency is the antithesis of what's required for growing a business. Someone with aptitude who works her ass off - THAT will help you a lot. The willingness to tackle any assignment without crinkled nose, the desire to research new platforms or processes with interest, or the contribution of unsolicited ideas? That kind of attitude is either hard-wired in your employee or it isn't. But if it is there, it's great for your company and it helps your employee grow personally. It's a win-win.
- Fresh perspective brings change. Most new employees bring a fresh look at things. But those who have not had long tenures at other companies generally don't say things like, "At my old company, we always did it like this," time and time again. Some experience with how to do things is great. Thinking you have THE way to do things because you did them that way for 10 years elsewhere might not be awesome. As long as you create an environment where fresh ideas are welcomed, regardless of what they are, you may get all kinds of innovative thinking from those who are completely unrestrained by any history in a corporate box. Maybe you'll get new perspectives on old problems. Maybe you'll discover problems you never knew you had, or start to wonder why you do things the way you do them.
- Good mentoring fosters ownership mentality. Yes, you have to spend more time with people who have little or no experience. Yes, you have to train, you have to mentor. But if you do a good job, you get employees who do things exactly the way YOUR company thinks they need to be done, and you get people who are loyal and thankful for that training. They have more ownership mentality than other people. They will become champions of your company, and employees who feel that way are strong ambassadors and great recruiters for new talent just like themselves.
Ownership mentality doesn't mean people won't ever leave. C'mon, it's 2015. But you have some control over that, right? Treat them right. Listen to them, encourage them. Turn them into decision-makers. If they believe they make a difference and have a stake in how things turn out, they are more likely to stay.
Hire for aptitude and attitude and put some work into an employee... or hire for the robust resume and hope you get a really enthusiastic team player? It can be a tough choice. But an upfront investment in a "green-er" employee could pay dividends in innovation and retention.
Certainly there are times when your business will require senior people with extensive experience. But for entry and mid-level roles, hiring staff with less experience and more passion and drive can change your workplace ecosystem in positive and welcome ways.