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Your Obsession With Experience Is Bringing Your Best Candidates Down

Business.com / Hiring / Last Modified: April 20, 2018
Image credit: Mangostar/Shutterstock

Mark Cuban didn't have any experience in technology, but it's the driving force behind his success. It's time to apply the same idea to talent acquisition.

An obsession has plagued business leaders and stunted their growth for decades. Their hunt for candidates with the "right" amount of experience continues blinding them from quality talent and depleting their talent pools.

This grim picture may seem a bit over-dramatic but narrowing down your already slim talent pool is no joke. While 42 percent of rapidly-growing companies think experience is most important when hiring, one of their biggest priorities is creating more reliable talent pipelines, according to the 2018 Growth Hiring Trends in the United States report, recently released by my team here at Spark Hire.

Unfortunately, focusing so heavily on experience and creating more talent pipelines isn’t an efficient combination.

Experience doesn’t equal determination

Successful companies are littered with strong-willed, determined, and creative individuals. And often times, those who are most successful aren’t actually your most experienced employees. Those who excel are passionate about their roles and take every task personally.

Unfortunately, while you’re looking for experience and proof candidates can jump directly into a role, more passionate and driven talent is passing you by. This isn’t just an issue for talent acquisition processes now; it’s hurting your future attempts to bring high-quality candidates into your talent pool.

These strong-willed, determined, and creative people are looking for a place to invest their time and hardwork. When they hear your company strictly adheres to experience qualifications, they’ll spend their valuable time applying elsewhere.

Make skills assessments a routine part of your talent acquisition process. Incorporate tests to measure key skills they need to excel in the role, including soft skills. Even though these assessments take a 10 to 15 minutes, some experienced but less-determined candidates will be deterred from participating.

Watch for how long it takes candidates to complete their assessments and the detail involved in their work. Those who finished in five minutes and accomplished the larger goals but missed smaller, more meticulous details, are lacking the drive and determination your team needs.

Your mission isn’t experience driven

Think back to when you wrote or first saw your mission statement and company values. Most likely, you weren’t daydreaming about all the experienced people who would help drive it forward.

In a September interview with CNBC, Mark Cuban described the love he felt before starting his own company: "When I got one of my first jobs out of school using technology, it was like, 'Wait, I love this.' I've taught myself the program, I could go seven hours, eight hours without taking a break thinking it was 10 minutes because I was concentrating so hard and so excited and really loved it."

It’s this same type of passion Cuban had for technology that you need from every team member. But, as Cuban shows, experience isn’t what drove his success -- it was a love for what he was doing.

Open up a new talent pool by seeking out people who already believe in your company and have a deep understanding of and passion for its mission. Announce your job openings to newsletter and blog subscribers, as well as social media followers.

Speak directly to that audience. Let them know you value their commitment to your company and how they’d specifically improve your mission if brought on as a team member.

Time isn’t on your side

Time is fleeting, and qualified candidates aren’t waiting around for you. Remember, even though you feel talent acquisition options are at a minimum, strong candidates have the world at their feet.

Meanwhile, rapidly growing companies have a high priority of decreasing time to hire, according to my company’s previously mentioned report. But when you’re putting candidates with less experience on the back burner to see if there are ‘better,’ more experienced options, time to hire will increase and the level of your talent pool will continually lower.  

Stop waiting around for something better to come along. Instead, consider a candidate’s growth potential. Evaluate how much time and money you’d need to invest and measure it against the time, money, and talent lost due to slowed hiring processes. Then, ensure your learning and development programs are efficient in quickly bringing someone up to speed and making them feel they belong on your team.

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