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Potential Or Experience: What Should You Hire On?

When an NFL franchise has to sign a free agent, it often compares experienced veterans and up-and-coming young talent. The same situation also applies when hiring managers are trying to fill a vacant position: Should they hire the young gun or the cagey veteran?

A Specialized Position

Being asked to run, catch passes and block, running backs are often chosen for their youth and athletic potential. However, the same isn’t true for punters – a highly-specialized job that only a select few individuals can reliably do well.

The same philosophy should apply to filling a vacant position at any organization. Someone’s potential might have a tantalizing appeal, but in a specialized job – experience is far more valuable.

Technology-Driven Change

With digital technology evolving at a rapid pace, both athletes and workers are being forced to adapt to game-changing devices and tech-based systems more than ever. Twenty years of experience working one particular way means nothing when an app comes along and disrupts the whole industry. That worker has to adapt to the changed environment.

A candidate fresh out of college has been adapting and learning as a natural part of the educational process, and therefore has greater potential for handling the next tech change coming down the pike.

A Cultural Fit

Young athletes and workers may be better able to adapt to new technology or systems, but what if their personality doesn’t mesh with those around them? Sports are rife with stories about a journeyman athlete at the end of his career being the “missing piece” that helps win a championship. The key to being that missing piece is great chemistry and being a cultural fit.

The same is true for hiring a new employee. Regardless of their experience or potential, a new hire must absolutely fit into the company’s environment, making the organization better as a whole.

Big Accomplishments May Not Be What They Seem

After the New England Patriots won Superbowl XLIX, it was pointed out that backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo now has as many championship wins as NFL legends Brett Farve and Peyton Manning.

Likewise, massive professional achievements like setting up a branch office or successfully developing a new product line might look impressive on paper. But was the candidate the driving force behind these accomplishments or warming the bench?

If, for instance, you’re building out a new department and the candidate just finished doing it for a competitor – then by all means consider that experience highly valuable. However, if the achievement isn’t particularly suited for the job you’re looking to fill – then spend more time investigating their role in a major past accomplishment. This due diligence could reveal if they are better at playing a lead role or a supporting one.

Of course, just because a potential hire doesn’t have a lengthy track record doesn’t mean he or she also isn’t bursting with potential.  An experienced professional may have worked in the same industry for a number of years and could still have a large reservoir of untapped potential waiting to be unleashed. Make informed decisions when going with potential vs. experience to fill out a well-rounded team.

Contact the talent acquisition experts at CAREERXCHANGE®, so we can help you identify someone with the right mix of experience and potential – as well as a great cultural fit.

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