The Secrets and Myth about job experience!

Experience is the best teacher. But is it?

If it is true, why do managers live this experience over and over?

A hiring manager stares at 35 resumes submitted for a job that should have been filled yesterday. She/he looks for the best experience, skills, and credentials. She/he interviews six people – one is outstanding! He is personable, outgoing, and has four years in a similar job – hired!

Six months later he is gone, costing the company about $50,000 including the loss of a customer. How could a candidate who seemed so right turn out to be so wrong? She thinks, “This just doesn’t make sense” (Weinstein, 2012).

Actually, it makes a lot of sense for three reasons.

First, 60% (or more) of resumes contain erroneous information like inaccurate job titles, dates, and “adjusted” or “clarified” work descriptions.

Second, many candidates pay professionals to make sure they include the right key words – the ones that electronic scanners look for and hiring managers respond to.  These may not actually describe their previous work.

Third, managers assume that experience listed on a resume reflects some level of skill. But holding a job for four years doesn’t necessarily translate to a more skilled employee – ever know someone who did just enough to keep a job for four years?

Hiring someone with experience doesn’t mean they will perform better or stay longer in the job. And when managers use experience as a hiring decision factor, they get the same result as they would by randomly selecting a resume from the stack! Looking at the facts, a candidate with no experience, after training and good supervision, is just as likely to succeed as a person with two or more years of experience (Greenberg and Greenberg, 1980)!

So, what is the best way to make a better hiring decision if job experience doesn’t matter?

Find a person whose natural personality strengths match job requirements. For example, a successful employee in a data entry position prefers routine work that requires attention to detail and accuracy. Sales reps need different qualities: verbal fluency, the ability to sense customer reaction, and the drive to resolve problems quickly. The best customer service rep enjoys talking to people and solving different kinds of problems every day.

The fastest and most accurate way to identify these strengths is to identify them in the first step of the hiring process.  There are tools that give managers the data they need to speed up the hiring process, increase the accuracy of hiring decisions, and reduce hiring costs by identifying the candidates who already have the characteristics needed for success in the job and the company.

Thank you to
D. L. Kerr, Ph.D

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