A Job Candidate’s Potential Can’t Be Measured By Numbers Alone

In today’s guest post, Brad Pettiford makes the case that years worked is not always an accurate prediction skill level or performance potential.

Assessing Job Seekers

Every job seeker gets that feeling. The sudden shift in attitude and outlook on life, from optimism and excitement to “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

You’re casually hanging out at home, scrolling through job listings on a new cell phone app, when your eyes shoot open with anxiousness. You’ve hit the jackpot – a job that is in your line of work with almost the identical job title and responsibilities that you are looking for. As you continue reading the job description, all the words begin to morph into one simple sentence: “This is your dream job and it was created for you.”

Microsoft Word has already been opened on your computer as you prepare to begin crafting your Pulitzer Prize-winning cover letter, when you stumble upon this infamous line:

“Required Skills: Qualified candidates must have 10 or more years of experience…”


You’re 27 years old with the educational background that the company is looking for and several years of experience in internships, volunteer roles and part-time positions that are all very similar to the job being applied for. You even have a connection in the HR department!

Continuing down the list, you’re extremely motivated to work the long hours and many days it takes to be a success in the business, and you have a strong desire to learn from longer-tenured folks at the company. You have experience managing projects, developing a budget and you are extremely organized. Heck, you have more technical skills than the person who would be supervising you!

But you just don’t have the required 10 years of experience.

Why is so much importance place into experience, like it’s the “be-all and end-all” of value to a company? If a 27-year-old accomplished in four years what it took a 40-year-old 12 years to accomplish, why is the 40-year-old the better option? (« Tweet This)

Sure, it’s important to hire someone who knows what they’re doing. But perceived value to an organization should be based on the quality of one’s experience and not the quantity.

There is no definitive correlation between experience and skill level. As soon as a company thinks there is, they risk missing out on the best candidate for the company’s long-term success.

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About the Author

Brad Pettiford manages the web site B4BConnect.com, an online community geared toward small business professionals.

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Posted in HR & Recruitment, Job Search Strategy
  • http://blog.ziprecruiter.com/2013/06/24/job-candidate-experience-verses-abilities/#respond Cammie Williams.

    What if you are a applicant that is 40 yrs old and has worked basically in offices and secretarial work since high school for the family business and loved the whole process of management of a business. Then went on to take accounting and typing classes in high school and majored in business in college, and got married and had a handicapped child and did not work more than 2 yrs here and there when the child started school because the child had surgeries and was sick so only held jobs that were very flexible. Also the applicant had a stroke in early 20′s and loss the use of one arm. Now 20 yrs later, divorced and looking for work and when they find out about the non working arm but are the most experienced and can adapt for anything one handed can not find a part time job running a register…how is that right?? They look at the big gaps between jobs and don’t know the reason..