When to Give Inexperienced Job Candidates a Shot

When to Give Inexperienced Job Candidates a Shot

It’s not just entry-level or college graduates, inexperienced workers include seniors, mid-career-changers, or full-time parents returning to the workforce, among others. Experts weigh in on why you should give them a chance – and the benefits it brings to your organization.

Need to Hire?  Post Jobs for Free

Ask a golf professional the best time to give someone lessons and they’ll tell you that the beginning of someone’s career is optimum. This same philosophy can be true for hiring new employees, says Tim Cotroneo, an Account Manager for MDS Staffing in Minneapolis.

“Get them while they’re fresh,” says Cotroneo.

Whether a golfer has played five years, 10 years, or 20 years, they have developed a lifetime of habits. Many of these habits aren’t necessarily the best way of doing things. The habits a new employee brings to your company can be good or bad.

“Hiring an inexperienced candidate gives you the opportunity to mold someone into doing things your way,” says Cotroneo.

But wise HR professionals, recruiters and small business owners also need to remember that inexperience comes in many shapes and sizes – it doesn’t just describe candidate’s fresh out of college or the entry-level worker with minimal work experience says Dana Manciagli, a global career expert and author of Cut the Crap, Get a Job! Manciagli has recruited, hired and coached thousands during her 30+ years as a sales and marketing executive in large corporations and a start-up.

“Inexperienced is a label that can be applied to seniors, mid-career-changers or full-time parents returning to the workforce,” says Manciagli. “Be open, be creative and embrace a diverse set of experience and backgrounds.”

If you still have doubts, think back about that person who gave you an opportunity when you were junior in your career, says Laura Mazzullo, President of East Side Staffing, a New York City specialized staffing firm focused on the placement of HR professionals in the New York City Area. You probably now realize how risky it was for them to give you that shot.

“Because of that awareness, you likely put 100 percent into the role to show them how grateful you were and to ensure they knew they hired the right person,” says Mazzullo. “Give that opportunity to someone else.”

If they have the intellect, drive and cultural fit for your firm, the technical skills can be taught, she adds.

Inexperienced candidates can bring these positive attributes to your organization and culture, says Cotroneo:

Enthusiasm: Most candidates fresh out of college or tech school are excited about his or her first opportunity. They bring boundless enthusiasm and willingness to succeed to a first job. This positivity should rub off on your existing co-workers and jumpstart your work environment.

Economical: The new candidate shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg. There is a cost to training someone new, yet the inexperienced candidate’s pay package should hopefully minimize your front-end training expense. Once the new candidate has acclimated to your way of doing things, they should be a bargain for the short term.

Loyalty: By taking a chance on an inexperienced candidate, there should be an element of reciprocal gratitude. If your company offers a fulfilling learning environment, the new employee will speak positively about your company and hopefully think twice before moving on.

Going the extra mile: During training of the inexperienced employee, you can point out existing examples of current employees who have been rewarded for taking on tasks beyond his or her job description. Taking this initiative can lead to promotions and raises.

As the quantity of top candidates open to moving positions gets smaller, companies will have to become more flexible with their search parameters. Waiting for the person who fits all 10 boxes on your wish-list may be silly if you can hire someone with seven boxes, who can start ASAP, and is the right cultural fit for your organization, says Mazzullo.

“Your firm should have learning and development programs in place to help bring employees up-to-speed,” says Mazzullo. “Some of the most successful hires are those that are humble, eager to excel and ambitious.”

Inexperienced doesn’t have to mean unqualified or unskilled either says Manciagli. An inexperienced candidate may be right for your company for these reasons, she says:

Reason #1: Inexperienced in YOUR role doesn’t mean they don’t have skills

  • Many candidates are hoping for a career change. They may be inexperienced in your type of job but they have other valuable experience.
  • Excellence in core competencies such as cross-group collaboration, communications skills and management expertise can dwarf other more tactical experience.

Reason #2: You have some positions ideally suited for those who have less experience

  • Consider positions in your company that are more staff related rather than line -oriented. For example: Operations, finance, human resources, even marketing.
  • Even a small business can set up a job rotation or training program that will give less experienced candidates exposure to multiple executives and business processes.

Reason #3: They don’t have mistakes to correct

  • It’s often ideal to train your employees from scratch rather than “unwinding” bad habits or poor training.
  • Inexperienced workers are open to learning new techniques, taking classes, mastering your solution or product, and learning – and following – your system requirements.

Reason #4: Change your culture and set a new tempo within your company

  • Shift the corporate paradigms that exist around “inexperience.”
  • Help develop our next generation of leaders, business owners and entrepreneurs by giving them a chance to learn, to perform, to excel.

Reason #5: You were inexperienced at one time

  • Remember that paradox: trying to get a job to get experience and being told that you needed experience to get hired? You just needed someone to give you a break!
  • Your interviews should focus on “soft skills” such as work ethic, eagerness to learn, work style, and more.
  • Your inexperienced hire will be fiercely loyal and eager to learn.
  • To lower your risk, consider a 90-day probation, short-term contract, or internship to ensure they have the soft skills to be successful.

“Give someone a chance,” says Mazzullo. “Someone gave you one and it will make your firm a more desirable place to work. It will indicate that your firm is one that values employee’s outside of just the data on their resume, and will demonstrate that you value ambition and soft-skills. This is a progressive way to hire and will set your firm apart from others.”

Written by

Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via resumesbymatt.com, connect with him on LinkedIn (www.linkedin.com/in/mattkrumrie/) and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

More Articles by Matt Krumrie