Hiring Under-Experienced Employees

By: Jill Reynolds, Quantix President and CEO

In a previous post, I addressed the topic of employers holding out for the perfect candidate and how unlikely it is they will find perfection. But what about hiring an underqualified candidate? Certainly there are pros and cons and it isn’t an option in every case but an underqualified candidate might be your preferred candidate. 

Have you ever tried to fill a position that “required” a specific skill set? If so, you probably interviewed candidates you really liked and would be a great cultural fit for your organization, but they just weren’t experienced enough. Did you know that only 11% of new employees fail due to lack of functional experience? Out of the remaining 89%, how can you identify an underqualified candidate that will succeed? Look for candidates who participate in ongoing education or learning opportunities, even if the education or training is non-work-related. It could also be a candidate who significantly changed their career path at some point and was successful in making the switch. These personality traits should transfer nicely in situations where “teachability” is key.

Image Credit: WMC

Image Credit: WMC

There are definite advantages to hiring underqualified candidates, but your organization should be committed to training and mentorship. Recent surveys indicate that nearly half of employers struggle to fill their positions with skilled employees. “More experience” is not always an asset since processes and technologies can change quickly. According to Dr. John Sullivan, “The dramatic pace of change rapidly renders experience, knowledge and answers obsolete and hiring managers should factor this in when weighing the relative value of each candidate’s background.” If you have solid training programs in place you have the opportunity to mold an under qualified candidate into an employee that meets your organization’s unique needs. An employee who is successful in learning and building new skills is also more likely to be adaptable to changing work environments and what work environment doesn’t experience change!

With job hopping as the norm in today’s workforce, especially in the IT sector, employers are constantly looking for ways to improve retention. Hiring and training a lesser experienced employee may build loyalty you might not find in hiring a more experienced candidate and may provide potential for a more long-term relationship. In addition, hiring an underqualified employee is certainly a greater investment in the short-term but with opportunity for a larger return in the long-term.

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