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Hiring for potential or experience?

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  • Amy heads up our international creative recruitment recruiting across packaging, design and more.

There are a few things that I always ask when taking a brief from a client- the obvious: location, job title, team size, salary package. I usually don’t get chance to ask the next question – how much experience does this candidate need to have?

The client will have usually stated a preference for 2-3 years, 6-10 etc as soon as they have given me the job title.

When I started out in creative recruitment I thought it made my job much easier, I could filter profiles straight away by dismissing those with less, or in some instances considerably more experience than the client had asked for. I would follow the brief given to the letter.

But I quickly realised that this wasn’t helping me, or my clients. I, and by default, they were missing out on some great talent due to ‘experience’.

How valuable is expereince over skill set? How valuable is experience over enthusiasm??

I am fortunate enough that I have some great clients who I have built great relationships with, clients who are open to suggestion. Who appreciate that I have relationships with my candidates as well and sometimes I go ‘off brief’ because I think I have unearthed a real gem regardless of their length of tenure. 

Understanding their business as much as I can without actually working there has helped me offer them a better service in being able to provide candidates who on the face of their CV may have been overlooked. I frequently ask hiring managers, if you are recruiting for a role and want someone to fill that role who has already been doing that exact role for 5 years, what incentive is there for the candidate to move?

Ask yourself, would want to leave your position for a like for like role? Even if theres a €5/6k increase, would you uproot yourself for a role that you can do in your sleep? One that isn’t a step up but merely a step sideways?

Probably not. And this is the biggest problem. You want someone with experience who is already doing the job and candidates want a step up and a career move.

I know that taking on new staff is risk, it can be a waste of time and money if it’s not a good fit for both candidate and client. But I also know that giving someone a role that is the next step up for them, you are not only going to get a hire who is extremely excited to be offered the role but one who will work unbelievably hard in order to prove they are capable.

I appreciate that a large part of being a recruiter is being the middle man, keeping everyone happy and providing a service to my clients but sometimes I can’t help feel there are scores of candidates being passed over simply because of the time frames on their CV.

I would urge hiring managers to think twice before passing over someone who might not tick every box. They could end up being the best kind of risk.

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