Why Skills Trump Experience as Hiring Criteria

The ideal candidate possesses both strong core skills and experience working in related capacities, but if two candidates remained, one with exceptional skill but limited experience, and the other with average skill but a slightly longer resume, the first candidate should be hired over the second.

The reason is simple. The obvious purpose for hiring is that a specific job needs to be done, and companies need someone who can do it, and do it well. If the more skilled candidate can validate his skills and demonstrate excellent application of these skills, it doesn’t matter how short his resume is – what matters is pure ability. Just because a candidate is more experienced doesn’t make him more qualified. For instance, 14 years of experience doesn’t guarantee that the candidate is an excellent worker, all it guarantees is that the candidate is at least mediocre.

Even given that two candidates are fairly matched in terms of skill, but one is a recent college graduate while the other has worked in the industry for a decade, the recent college graduate should still be considered more favorably than the other, if only because of future potential. This candidate would be an exciting hire because limited experience in the field doesn’t equate to limited knowledge, which leads to the possibility of this candidate being more innovative and able to adapt and integrate quickly and easily into new, challenging environments.

Furthermore, weighing experience more heavily than skill dramatically shrinks the talent pool, especially when it comes to promising young talent. Sure, experienced workers add their own kind of value to companies, and experience is still important in hiring, but it shouldn’t be the only reason a highly qualified and promising candidate is passed over.

Core skills are transferrable. Applications of core skills can be learned, especially if the mind in question is still thirsting to be filled and tested.