Why experience isn't everything in the job market
1st December, 2021
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We’ve all heard this story before — an entry level job is advertised and it goes to someone who already has paid, relevant experience. This is amongst the reasons why more and more young people are struggling to find jobs than ever before, explains Andy Kehoe, marketing executive at technical PR agency Stone Junction.
However, experience isn’t everything, and employers who do this are potentially missing out on some valuable human capital by adopting the ‘experience trumps all’ mindset. We’re here to tell you that perhaps you’ve been looking at recruitment all wrong. Investing in graduates and young people can sometimes be the way forward.
After all, it’s not how many days of experience someone has that’s important, it’s what they did in those days. As Karate Kid’s Mr Miyagi said, in the original 1984 film, “It’s not the quantity of what you know, it’s the quality”.
Although boomers might disagree, young people feel they are being starved of opportunities. Naturally, coming out of university and starting out in the world, graduates don’t possess any real-world job experience.
For today’s graduates, navigating the job market can quickly turn into mind-numbing frustration: Apply for a job, be told you don’t have enough experience, and then wonder how you are ever going to get experience if nobody gives them that first opportunity — indeed, the Catch-22.
What do we mean by ‘mercenary hiring’?
When we use the term ‘mercenary hiring’, think about football and players that make purely money-motivated moves to a new club.
While these players have the experience of playing at the highest level, they don’t necessarily love or even care about the club. They may not go that extra mile and, when things aren’t going well, they’re more likely to capitulate. As a business, you can end up in the same boat if you are hire purely on experience.
Focusing on core skills and attributes
We’re not saying that you shouldn’t hire people with experience, of course you should. We’re saying that disregarding candidates based on their lack of experience in your sector is close-minded, and you could be missing out on a lot of potential.
Remember, every great mind started somewhere. Similarly, your best, most experienced team members started out with no experience, and stayed like that until someone gave them that first opportunity.
If you focus on the core skills and personality attributes of a potential team member, you may be more likely, in the long run, to recruit a better fit for your company.
So, this is how you should look at it: are this person’s core skills and personality adaptable to the job role? If yes, it’s not going to take them long to learn the specific skills they need to do it.
Moulding to your company culture
If you are to hire a graduate or young person, especially in today’s often hopeless job market, they are likely to be grateful to the company that broke the cycle and believed in them, and express their gratitude in loyalty and results.
Hiring young people allows you to mould your colleagues to your company values and ways of working more easily — kind of sounds like some weird brainwashing facility at this point — but anyway, you get the point…
Experienced employees, with the wrong attitude, can be stuck in their old ways, having picked up bad habits from other companies they have worked for. They might have lost that initial zest to impress that is often found in a young mind starting out in the world.
More up to date with emerging technologies
This is an obvious one, but young people are extremely social media savvy. For example, when it comes to Instagram demographics, 67% of people aged 18-29 use the platform, compared to 47% aged 30-49, and 23% aged 50-64.
With social media marketing and advertising quickly becoming a hotbed for traffic and conversions, it is important to be well-versed on the various platforms, and young people can certainly provide these skills.
Next time you’re hiring, don’t automatically discount people with less experience. At Stone Junction, some of the best people we’ve hired started out with no experience at all, and have now become genuine experts in their field. After all, Mr Miyagi also said, “no such thing as bad student, only bad teacher”.