Experience May Not Be All It's Cracked Up to Be

If you've ever lost out on a job you were a finalist for, you've probably heard these words: "We went with someone with more experience." It's a phrase that especially dogs early-career workers, who can't get the experience to be hired if they're never hired and gain experience. Hiring managers are usually right to play it safe, but one entrepreneur thinks it's well worth branching out.

Speaker and consultant Shane Green recently called our collective reliance on experience "an addiction" in Forbes. "Listen, experience is great," he writes. "I am not dismissing its benefits, but I am concerned with how many managers let it override all other factors in the hiring process, especially for roles where the necessary knowledge and skills can easily be taught."

He's not wrong about one thing: Relying on experience as a top indicator of job suitability is going to keep a lot of the same people in positions of power. We know that diverse workplaces are more innovative, more financially stable, and more enjoyable for their employees. Yet something as basic as a dress code can keep an office in its established patterns, and that's even before addressing problems like referrals or bias.

Luckily, we have research showing how to get more kinds of candidates in the door. Once you attract more diverse hires, more diverse hires will follow. While it's a dog-eat-dog world out there, companies shouldn't mistake experience for expertise. If anyone can learn to do a job, it's worth finding out how well they can do it for you.