Hiring for potential over experience




When assessing candidates, you’ve likely run up against a conundrum: Do you need experience, or are potential and raw talent enough? Which should you hire for, and why? Chances are, the first thing you look for is experience. And while hiring for experience is not a mistake, hiring only for experience can be. To get the full picture, it’s important to look also at individuals’ soft skills, determine if they’re a good fit, and gauge their potential.


Gone are the days when years of experience were the primary indicator of achievement. Workers today are more likely to spend just three to five years in a role, but that doesn’t mean they lack commitment—or aren’t gaining valuable knowledge.


“Having worked in the recruitment industry, I have witnessed business owners evaluate a candidate for experience over their potential for open positions in their companies. Most Job ads have a requirements sector which more often than not, have the number of years of experience they expect a potential candidate to possess. It's important to keep in mind that past performance doesn't guarantee future success- yet it's still the most common tool used when recruiting.” Salma, Business Developer, Yusudi Limited


Let’s look at three main benefits of hiring a candidate for their potential:

  1. They’ve got fresh ideas. Without a lot of preconceived notions of what has and hasn’t worked in prior roles, someone fresh out of the gates may be more open to new ideas and bring more of their own to the table. If you’re trying to innovate and iterate, potential might be right for you.

  2. They’re adaptable. If you’re growing and trying new processes to see what works for you, it’s helpful to have someone who can handle change well. With potential, you’re less likely to be battling old habits.

  3. They’re affordable. As experience progresses, often so do rates, unless someone is willing to take a pay cut to accept a position they’re passionate about. Overall, less experienced individuals charge less until they have enough experience to command a higher rate.

The new era of talent spotting is not evaluating based on brains, brawn, experience or competencies, but on potential. It’s crucial to take the time to get to know a candidate (and vice-versa) during the recruitment process. Experience is important, but it can only go so far. The perfect resume should be a checkmark in a larger list of requirements since potential is the long-term investment needed to grow your team.


Do you wish to fill in an entry-level or mid-level sales or administrative position in your company? We can help you fill the position with one of the graduates from our Skills2Grow program. Talk to us via +254781882374 or email ivy@yusudi.co and we’ll be in touch.

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