According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a paradox is a statement or situation that is difficult to understand as it contains two opposite facts or characteristics. You’ll come across many of these in your role as a business owner, but the main one is the experience paradox.
What is this?
It’s something that always comes up whenever you look to hire new employees. You’re told that experience is essential, yet how do people gain experience if they’re not hired for work? At some point, the people with experience started off without it, so they were surely hired over people that had experience?
Already, your brain is muddled and you’re going around in a loop. Should you only look for experienced candidates, or could you miss out on someone special by doing this? Do you give the inexperienced a shot, or is it too much of a risk? So many questions revolve around the experience paradox, but there are different ways of dealing with it when making new hires.
Consider the role
One tactic to help solve this paradox is to avoid viewing every single role in the same light. Realistically, some roles will demand a certain level of experience. Think about executive roles; here, you need to hire someone that has enough experience to steer your company in the right direction.
Furthermore, they need to go out of their way to really showcase their experience. The Marc Spizzirri blog is a brilliant example of this, detailing that he has four decades of executive experience, but backing it up with blog posts demonstrating his knowledge. If a candidate can do this, you know that they are much better placed for a demanding job than someone that’s fresh out of college.
On the other hand, some roles don’t demand a high level of experience. Look at the entry-level jobs in your business as excuses to hire people without experience. This is how people grow and gain experience within an industry. Who knows, after a few years, they might be better equipped to move up to the more responsible roles in your company.
The second approach to the experience paradox is to stop looking at experience from one perspective. On-the-job experience is important, but candidates may have transferable experience.
Let’s imagine you’re hiring a web designer, and there’s a candidate that’s not had a proper job before. On the face of it, they look inexperienced. However, they’ve actually spent multiple years studying web design, doing volunteering work, and creating numerous projects to pass their exams. While it’s not technically on-the-job experience, it is easily transferable.
So, keep in mind that you should look at the bigger picture instead of simply arrowing in on someone’s work experience. If they’ve studied for years to gain qualifications, the chances are they were doing the same sort of work that an experienced person does anyway.
In conclusion, the experience paradox can be a tricky thing to navigate. However, the easiest way to look at it is by considering the two points above. View each role separately, understanding that some roles have a higher demand for work experience than others. Similarly, consider how someone’s education can be used as a transferable experience. This should help you make more informed hires that benefit your business!