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Let me start this post off by saying I know experience is important when applying for a job. It’s crucial that the individual knows what they are doing and has some years in the field. That being said I think being the most experienced person for the job doesn’t necessarily yield the best candidate for that position.

For years now job seekers have followed the notion that if the decision comes down to two qualified individuals and one has 3 years experience and the other has 10, that the person with 10 is going to get the position. But should that always be the case? Some forward thinking hiring managers are saying no. That this is an outdated model and should be revisited. But why? Shouldn’t the person with the most experience get the job? I mean they clearly have worked in the field longer, have dealt with more situations and have endurance in their chosen profession. So why would a hiring manager even consider hiring someone with less experience and view them as a better candidate?

Well I say they should do this for a few reasons:

1) Experience does not equal passion. You want the person that is joining your team to be passionate about what they will be doing and your company. A person who is excited to work with your company and not just excited to get a paycheck will be a better investment in the long run. It’s easy to find people that can do the job but it’s much harder to find someone who is genuinely excited about the opportunity and that can be an invaluable asset to have in someone working for you. Maybe even more valuable than experience.

2) The number of years of experience can be deceiving. You may have someone who has had 10 years of experience working in an ad agency. They always did their job but was never interested in moving above their position or learning new things. Where as you have someone with only 2 years of agency experience but they have worked within different departments, did freelance on the side, attended seminars about new technology and were always looking for ways to make the department better. JUST A THOUGHT: Sometimes people with more years in the business tend to get comfortable and are less willing to change attitudes or go outside the comfort zone of what they know. Bringing someone fairly new to the business could lead to fresh ideas and new solutions.

3) Coming from different jobs can help not hurt. A great example: I was a Graphic Design instructor for 8 years and now I am looking for a job as a designer. I know my resume gets overlooked or tossed aside because it isn’t the experience they are looking for. But as an instructor I was constantly learning new software, had to keep up on current design trends, had to articulate my message to large groups of students, evaluated work and made suggestions on how it can be better, organized curriculum and had to be knowledgeable of all aspects of the design industry. Those are valuable skills that just because weren’t used in an advertising agency are no less applicable and valuable.

4) You can’t teach a person to fit in. Lately “business culture” has become a huge buzz word in the job community. Some companies like Google, Apple, TOMS and Zappos are famous for it. Businesses are becoming more and more conscience of just how important this can be to establishing themselves as a lasting brand. Just like dating, the person who looks good on paper might not be the best match for you. Be open to considering their personality, their drive just as you would their experience. You want to work with like minded people that will fit your brand and not just work for your brand.

So hiring managers, start widening your job search. Interview people with less experience but are passionate and show interest in your company. Don’t automatically disregard resumes of people that show promise but lack years of job related experience. After all you don’t want the perfect candidate who want to hire the perfect employee and co-worker.

Further Reading: If you want to read some great books that really talk about the importance of creating & maintaining a business culture and how we should rethink the way we hire check out these great titles.

Rework by Jason Fried
Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie
Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone
The Zappos Experience by Joseph Michelli