How many years experience should a candidate have?
Often our recruitment clients are very specific about how much experience they need candidates to have. They say they want 9 years of experience in one area 5 years of something else and more years of yet another area. Is this really valid?
What do you mean by ‘experience’?
Usually you mean the individual has been there, done it and got the Tee shirt. So they should have ways of handling particular situations effectively. Yes, there are situations where years of experience are great, because the memory is ‘muscle memory’ and you want someone who can do things without thinking, like driving or juggling.
In those cases it does take many repetitions to get it right and for your brain to transfer the skill into a different area.
But there are other ways
Other times, when you have successfully carried out a task or completed a project it’s because you have thought things through and come up with a solution that worked. In that case doing the same thing three times is generally much less of an advantage than having handled three different situations successfully.
So if you want people to have had experience, specify what experience you want rather than just specifying a number of years in a particular field.
Don’t assume, just because someone has never done something before, that they won’t be able to do it. Experience is an indicator that they may have the skills, but only if they achieved the results.
Sometimes three or four different small bits of experience or skill add up to the big picture.
For example, if a candidate has some management experience, even running a charity fund raising event, that plus his or her technical experience coaching customers could mean she could run an implementation team, even though he or she hasn’t run a department like that before.
How do people get experience?
Lastly a very important point. If you only ever take people with the exact experience of doing the job you are recruiting for, no one would ever be able to move forward because those without experience would never get a job with the opportunity to get the experience.