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Experience vs potential, which is more important when deciding between Candidates?

Whether you’re expanding your team or replacing an Employee, the decisions you make in the hiring process will inevitably shape the business and determine how successful you will be in achieving strategic objectives. If people are your most valuable asset, your aim should be to recruit only those who will add value to the business – of course, determining which Candidate fits the bill isn’t always easy.

Unique skill-set, culture-fit, attitude and ambition should all be factors that feature high on your list of priorities for the perfect Candidate. However, when push comes to shove, will you choose the person with the most experience or base your decision on potential and raw talent alone?

While a proven track record can be reassuring, everyone starts somewhere: overlook the qualities that an inexperienced but high-potential Candidate offers and you may kick yourself when they go on to prove invaluable to the success of a competitor. Gamble on the promise of potential alone and you could equally regret your decision when the more experienced of your shortlist adds another victory to their repertoire.

If it feels like you can’t win, you might need to take a step back and determine which of the two is more important to your business. In order to find your answer, you should ask the following questions:

1. How mature is your company?

If you are a small company or a new start-up, hiring high-potential talent fresh from graduation can be a win for both parties: The Employer saves on cost and benefits from the ambition and drive of their new recruit while the Employee is able to develop their professional skills and grow with the company. However, if you’re an enterprise-size business with a distinct hierarchy, structure, process and a set of high-value Clients, you may opt for the safe pair of hands that comes with an experienced Candidate.

2. Are specialist skills required?

Is the role either generalist or entry level by nature? If the answer is yes, you might not necessarily need to spend a fortune on someone with a five-page CV. Similarly, if you’re happy to nurture talent as your company breaks away from basement-phase to centre-stage, you’ll likely reap the benefits of staff loyalty in the long-term. Of course, for businesses seeking talent to take on niche projects that demand highly specialised skills, it simply makes sense to look to the more experienced of the Candidates when compiling a shortlist.

3. Do you have time and money to commit to training?

At the end of the day, your decision will ultimately be influenced by factors such as financial and schedule restrictions as well as your style of management. If you want a Candidate who can step in and hit the ground running with little training, it might be hard to justify recruiting an individual on raw talent alone. If you are hiring proactively and have a set training budget in place, however, there’s no reason why a high-potential Candidate shouldn’t be given the opportunity to put their skills to the test.

4. Which Candidate is the most passionate?

Every Employee should be judged individually on their own merit, and you should avoid tarnishing every experienced or non-experienced Candidate with the same brush. After all, knowing your way around a business doesn’t necessarily constitute valuable experience just as completing a course doesn’t always signal ambition.

Your decision will ultimately depend on the attitudes of the Candidates you have in front of you. Regardless of how long they have spent honing their skill, the passion they demonstrate for the job, the company and the future of their profession will tell you everything you need to know about whether they are right for the business.

Seeking further guidance in the recruitment process or just torn between your options? Get in touch with our expert team for advice and guidance throughout the process.

Over the last 20 years, we have grown as a business to become one of the leading independent Recruitment agencies in Oxfordshire, and in 2018 have opened our first London office, to service Clients in the capital.    

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Kate Allen

Kate Allen

Kate founded Allen Associates in 1998 out of a determination to build a recruitment business which delivered a bespoke service centred on the needs of clients and candidates.

Turn down the volume

At Allen Associates we understand it’s about quality not volume. We get to know you and your business properly so when we send you a candidate they’ll be the best possible fit.

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