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When a key staff member leaves, your instinct is probably to hire based on experience. You need someone who can do the job now, not in 30 or 60 or 90 days. However, hiring for potential provides opportunities that hiring for experience does not.

Here’s a quick guide to hiring for potential versus hiring for experience – and when it’s wise to emphasize one over the other:

Hiring for Experience

Hiring for experience is ideal when:

  • You need someone with a specialized skill set to tackle a specialized, immediate need.
  • You have a flagging department or project that must be “brought up to speed” as quickly as possible.
  • The candidate has a proven track record of “growing into” positions – but also has the skills you need immediately.

Hiring for Potential

Hiring for potential offers promise when:

  • You need someone adaptable, self-motivated, and engaged.
  • You have a position to fill that often serves as a “stepping stone” to areas of higher responsibility in the company.
  • Your company or industry as a whole is facing rapid change, sudden growth, or high turnover.

Hiring for Both

Can you hire for both experience and potential at the same time? Yes! And, when possible, it’s often in your company’s best interests for you to choose both. Look for candidates who have strong foundational skills that match the abilities needed in the job, coupled with curiosity, insight, engagement, and determination. For instance, a candidate who runs her own blog related to her area of work or a candidate who happily completed every certification class offered by his former employer, on top of offering the experience you need, is a candidate who offers fantastic potential.

Hiring for potential also offers your company extraordinary benefits. Employees with potential are more adaptable and better able to take calculated risks. They’re also more likely to stay with your company for the long term, since their ability to learn and their natural curiosity help them climb the career ladder with one employer instead of feeling the need to “jump ship” every few years.

At ExecuTeam, our staffing partners can help you find the right person for the job today and for growth into leadership positions in your company tomorrow. Contact us today to learn more.

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