How to Choose Between Talent and Experience

Gina Deveney
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When posting an opening for a new position, it is common practice to place a heavy emphasis on job experience. More important positions generally require more years of experience in a given field, but what if a talented candidate shows up with impressive skills but less experience than other applicants? According to the Get Growing for Business Blog by Scotiabank, the answer largely depends on the job position and the organization's stage of growth.

A newer company may be tempted to hire individuals with ample job experience, particularly if the position being filled is in marketing or another area directly related to the company's success and reputation. Experienced individuals may also have important contacts and connections in the industry to help give the organization a boost, and if the candidate has worked with other companies, he likely has some fresh new ideas to bring to the table.

One downside of hiring based on past job experience is that these candidates may have trouble adapting to the type or style of work that your organization needs. Veolia Environmental Services' vice president of sales and marketing Mark Dennis explains that candidates with industry experience are often not flexible as they are set in their ways, and they have a difficult time seeing the industry from the organization's perspective. This can make them incredibly difficult to train. Additionally, any methods and practices used by the candidate at a previous company, whether good or bad, are inevitably brought to your workplace.

Talented candidates with little experience are much easier to mold to your company's needs. Although these individuals inevitably require more training and mentorship, these efforts are sure to pay off if the candidates combine their talent with a healthy dose of motivation. If your company does not have the time and resources for extensive job training, however, an inexperienced applicant is likely not the best choice.

If you hire someone who has a degree related to the field and at least a year or two of job experience, you can be sure he knows the basics. Keep in mind that many college programs require an internship, so even an entry-level applicant fresh out of college is likely to have minimal experience.

Lastly, the choice between talent and experience depends on your company's budget. Candidates with even five or 10 years of job experience are likely to request a larger salary. However, their knowledge, efficiency and reduced training needs may be worth the cost.

It is important to remember that age and experience do not necessarily guarantee talent, so never assume that a candidate is a good fit just because he has worked in the industry for some time. Also remember that a candidate who shows potential can bring energy and a positive outlook to the workplace even with little job experience.

(Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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