Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Potential is More Valuable Than Experience

Let’s say you have two sprinters: one with perfect form and one who has an inefficient running style that hampers his speed. You want to see which sprinter you should place in the last spot on your team, so you have them line up to run a 40-yard dash.

Ready, set, GO!

They take off, racing to the finish line. Both lean forward as they reach the tape and… it’s a tie. So whom do you choose?

The smart choice would be the runner with imperfect form, because if you teach him how to run more efficiently, eventually he might surpass the runner who already has perfect form.

Surprised? The choice in many instances can be between short term and long term gain. This is the same choice hiring managers often face when interviewing candidates. Do they hire someone they feel can handle the job on the first day? Or go with the candidate who needs a little training, but has the potential to be a superstar employee?

Chad Thies, President of Zelle Human Resource Solutions and First Vice President of Union Bank and Trust, has had the opportunity to interview and hire many employees. Here he gives some tips to help potential employees stand out from the pack.

OD: What do you value more: a candidate who could hit the ground running on the first day, or someone with enormous potential who needs training?

Thies: Train with potential…unless the candidate that can hit the ground running already has a lot of talent and achieved potential.

Many employers covet a new employee who can sit down and get right to work on her first day in the office. Hiring this person can limit the amount of time spent on training and maximize the time spent producing deliverables. However, according to a Quartz interview with Dan Shapero, head of LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions group, being able to hit the ground running on the first day is an overrated ability. While you may want to hire someone with prior experience, finding someone with long-term potential could have bigger benefits. Shapero himself had no sales experience before LinkedIn hired him. Now, he is in charge of the company’s most profitable division. He might not have reached that position if all that mattered to his manager was the new employee’s perceived ability to produce on the first day. Employee development can help someone with no prior experience, but enormous talent, achieve goals that may not have been immediately evident.

OD: What do you look for on a resume to signify that a candidate is worthy of an in-person interview?

Thies: Cleanliness of the resume — show me you spent time on it. I want data scattered throughout the resume that supports the persons’ success. Don’t write me a story. Show me the selling points that will get me to read more about you. E.g., when looking for a new car the first thing you are going to look at is the sticker price and then the cool features.

There are a number of creative ways that people have made their resumes unique and noticeable. For example, one young man made his into an interactive experience akin to playing a video game. Someone else patterned their resume after a horror movie poster. There was even a young woman who made her resume look like a Facebook page.

Of course, not everyone is this inventive. So how can one stand out without making their resume mimic a popular social media site? As Thies said, share concrete data. Are there any solid growth percentages you can put down that show the impact of your contributions to a company? Did you institute any new processes that improved efficiency or helped reduce spend? What new initiatives did you introduce and how much money did they bring in? Sometimes having concrete data is better than being amazingly creative.

OD: How do you put together a team of employees? What qualities stand out to you?

Thies: I look for certain themes. I need to have positivity, work-intensity, ethics, detail orientation and focus. Give me these and I can make anyone great.

There are many qualities that go into making an employee a good fit for a company. While it typically helps if someone has past experience, that experience might not translate into fitting with the culture of a particular office, not to mention its employees. No matter the company, employees are expected to work together to achieve success, and even the most talented and experienced workers may not collaborate well. In the interview with Quartz, Shapero said that hiring an employee who fits with both the culture of a company and the team they are joining is crucial. Making a bet that you can train someone to learn the job can be difficult. It takes a lot of resources to give an employee on-the-job training, but it may help build loyalty, as well as a cohesive team.

Experience vs. potential

A company cannot hire an employee based on potential and expectations alone. There should be a balance between people with prior experience and people who have the ability to grow into bigger roles as they learn within an organization. Corporations and employers can be a lot like sports teams, made up of young hires with potential and older veterans who know their way around the game. Potential employees can showcase their talents by using data to illustrate the tangible qualities they bring to a role. Employers might also find better quality talent by looking for more than just prior experience. Sometimes taking a chance and training someone is worth the resources this endeavor can take. It may be the only way some people ever get the chance to play the game.

This article was originally published on

Source: B2C_Business

Why Potential is More Valuable Than Experience

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