Why Experience is Overrated in the Workplace

When hiring new employees it’s easy to overlook candidates who are short of experience in the workplace, but are you making a huge mistake? All you need to do is look to entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson. Even with a lack of experience these individuals created business empires at a young age. So, why do people overestimate the importance of experience on business or career success?

Not all experience is good experience.

Trying to measure the level of an individual’s experience is more difficult than it sounds. Imagine you are hiring a new member of staff. The time in a position or knowledge and skills learned on the job does not mean that an individual has suitable experience. Their working experience could be outdated, irrelevant or specific to their previous role.

Make sure you can distinguish individuals with negative experience from those with positive experience – this is key to hiring the right person. Be wary of hiring someone just because they have spent a lot of time within a company. You do not know whether this time was productive or beneficial. As well as this, ensure that any previous experience is relevant. An employee doesn’t necessarily have to have similar experience; more importantly is the transferable skills they have learned that they can carry into their new position.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.

In recent years, the idea of ‘intrapreneurship’ has really taken off. This is the notion of possessing strong entrepreneurial qualities and utilising these skills within a large company. Employers are increasingly seeking innovative and natural leaders in a bid to modernise their business. According to Forbes, over 40% of millennial employees are very interested in working in an environment where this behaviour is encouraged and not constrained.

The younger, less experienced ‘millennial employee’ is more likely to possess these attributes. According to the Huffington Post young employees have a different set of challenges and fewer boundaries in today’s workplace. Individuals with little experience have no expectations and can therefore adapt to big changes. They can also offer a completely fresh perspective and be shaped to fit their precise role. In some cases, a lack of direct experience is actually a hug asset.

Working does not make success.

Just because an individual has got many years of working experience under their belt does not mean they are successful. A great example of this is by thinking of some of history’s greatest entrepreneurs. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both started up while they were still at University. We don’t even need to say how successful they became. On the other hand, some white collar workers work for years and years in the same role without progressing.

Experience is not a key indicator of success or performance in the workplace. If you are conducting interviews, you may want to consider interviewing individuals of a range of work experience and skill level.

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