Why “Years of Experience” is an Unnecessary Requirement

When a hiring manager meets with a recruiter to discuss the requirements of a new position, one requirement that often comes up is “years of experience.” While many think of this requirement as a valid concern, it might not be the best measuring stick for candidate value. Consider three primary reasons for this assumption:

    1. It’s About Skills The reason for having a “years of experience” requirement is to ensure that the candidate has learned what they need to in order to do the job. However, different candidates learn these skills in different amounts of time. A candidate that can learn basic skills in three years may be more valuable than a candidate who takes ten years to learn the same skills.


    1. Type of Experience “Years of experience” is a very vague term. A candidate might have ten years of experience at a particular company, but if five years of that experience was unrelated to the position you are filling, it becomes irrelevant. In this case, somebody with six years of related experience now has the upper hand.


    1. Consider Motivation Often, when candidates are newer to their careers, they have an extra amount of motivation and excitement. This can be productive and beneficial to the employer and makes the candidate easily trainable. Those who have been in their career for many years, by contrast, might be burned out and less motivated to perform (not always the case, but a factor to consider.


    1. Natural Talent While years of experience often lead to wisdom in recruiting, it doesn’t always lead to greater talent. Some talents come naturally, while other talents are learned. Recruiting requires considering a bit of each, so it is important to consider basic, natural talent.


When speaking with hiring managers at the beginning of a project, ask what skill sets they require for a candidate, rather than years of experience. Somebody with five years of experience might have learned more and had more career success than somebody with ten years of experience, and failing to recognize this can lead to poor candidate options.


December 17, 2015

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