Hiring: Does Years of Experience Equate to Skill?

Job descriptions are often an idealized portrait of what we want in a perfect candidate, and we often encourage candidates to apply to the job even if they don’t meet all of the recommended requirements. 

But the vagueness behind someone’s years of experience doesn’t get talked about enough. How many years of experience do you really need to qualify for an associate position? A manager position? Do those years mean a candidate would actually do a great job? 

Exploring What It Means to “Be Qualified”

“To be qualified” for something is subjective. To make it more fair and objective, companies and societies have created mandatory or expected certifications; to be qualified in that case means you have paperwork that shows you had certain training or you met certain standards.

But does having years of experience mean you’re qualified to do something? That you are skilled in the discipline or with using the required software? People are different – we all have different learning curves and levels of self-confidence and self-awareness. Given the technological advancements and increase in tech savviness, it’s not as hard anymore for someone to learn a new skill in just a matter of days. 

What Counts as “Experience?”

Does having a decade worth of experience in something automatically make someone an expert? Not always. A decade’s worth of experience in Social Media marketing is not fully necessary to manage corporate content on Facebook, when the platform is continuously changing and evolving.

Doing something well does not always correlate with the amount of time spent learning to do it or actively doing it. Experience may not equate to growth in methods, skills and continuous learning. The best indicator of a person’s skill should be qualitative, measured by the amount of dedication and drive the candidate has to improve and learn. For new hires, it’s invaluable to treat new positions as a challenge. And companies should want new hires to grow into the position asking questions, seeking out mentoring, and even making a few mistakes as they get acclimated to a role.

A Growth Mindset

Research has shown that the best way to maintain a drive for continuous learning is to treat difficult tasks as a lack of skill (which can be acquired) rather than a lack of talent. Growth mindsets can also lead to higher engagement with work.

Here at Prevue, we use a Job-Fit assessment to get deep into how and why a candidate works. It reports on aptitude, interests, and personality traits, and how they might impact a candidate’s performance in a role. We get to learn about their characteristics and approach to work all before the interview. 

What makes a good employee is the eagerness to continuously learn, regardless of how many years of experience and certifications you have. Taking the time and effort to seek new experiences before even having the official authority or title to do so shows that an individual is qualified and capable to achieve great things. As much as experience matters in some roles, the number of years shouldn’t stop you from learning and building on those skills that you already have.