29 Dec 2020 Hire for Potential Instead of Hiring for Expertise

Hiring for Potential

Do you want to hire the best talent? Surprisingly, hiring candidates who are experts are not always the best bet. Candidates who have the drive to learn and adapt are often better options. If you reflect on your company’s true needs, you will likely find that to attain the best fit for your team, you need someone who is eager for the opportunity to achieve. In some cases, candidates who have the potential for success are often better than candidates who are already experts.


Career Phase Timeline

The average timeline for staying at an IT job is about 2-3 years. There are three phases in the arc of a career – the learning and growing phase, and advancing stage of building confidence, and the stage of acquired expertise and skill. The sweet spot for hiring is in the middle of the S curve – where professionals are high in confidence, enthusiasm, and a desire to advance. These employees have started to develop their skills, but still have a lot to learn and achieve.


Johnson suggests that at any given point you want 15% of your team to be inexperienced, 15% to be experts, and the remaining 70% to be in between. Experts do add something to the workplace. They are proficient at their job and make great mentors. But you are better off letting employees become experts on the job than hiring them outright. Having too many inexperienced employees is also bad because the team will not have all the skillsets they need to perform the work. Plus, inexperienced team members often struggle with confidence.


Avoid Boredom and Stagnation

The main problem is that people like to be challenged, so hiring highly skilled experts can backfire. If the employee does not feel challenged, they grow bored quickly and move onto a different challenge. With this in mind, hiring someone who is either an expert or close to becoming an expert is risky. You don’t want to be in the position to replace someone after just a few months, costing extra time and money to find new talent.


Instead, look for candidates that have some experience, but show signs of potential. Hiring managers are often wary of hiring people with less experience. One concern is that if the employee finds the work too hard, they will leave. But the evidence does not support this. In most cases, the less experienced employee will jump at the chance to advance and improve their skills. Look for people who are intelligent and flexible, as well as people who can take direction but will also show initiative. And be sure to implement a strong onboarding process along with training and continuing education. People who are trained are more likely to stay.


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