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Should recruitment decisions be based on experience or raw talent?

Should recruitment decisions be based on experience or raw talent?We have all faced this dilemma. The team needs more capacity, and it’s time to decide who can fill the skills gap. Should you start looking for someone with experience who can slot into your way of working and get up to speed quickly with minimal intervention, or should you give a chance to someone starting out who displays ‘raw talent’, and train them for the role? There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ employee, so the answer is rarely clear-cut.

Here we explore the pros and cons of the decision-making process to help you take the right step for your business.

Take a chance

Firstly, what is ‘raw talent’ and how will you know when it presents itself? Enthusiasm and aptitude may be apparent in an existing employee from within your organisation; this may be someone from outside your team who is working hard to get noticed. Giving them a chance brings the advantage of familiarity with your brand. This is not to be underestimated. If you have ever sighed at the prospect of a newcomer’s induction, you might be delighted to gain a new team member who at least knows their way around. You can skip the basics and concentrate on targeted training for the new role.

Great new ideas

More difficult is assessing raw talent amongst external applicants. They may have the required qualifications but lack experience on the ground. Without the requisite experience, these candidates may not even make your shortlist. How can you design your recruitment process to include those who have committed personal time to developing their skills? If you can identify raw talent and train them for your specific requirements, you will see many benefits. 

Harness a livewire

Firstly, your new recruit is likely to be passionate about the role, and about your company. They may be grateful for being given a chance on what may be the first step of their career ladder. A newcomer with raw talent is likely to learn quickly and be more productive. But if they really lack experience, they may drain your existing team’s resources with too much hand-holding. If you have identified a livewire and believe they can contribute, consider how can you work with their colleagues to share the burden of helping them to fit in.

An alternative viewpoint

On the other hand, an experienced colleague joining your business from outside could bring many benefits. They will hit the ground running and may also have an inside track on at least one of your competitors. Experience brings perspective, and this new team member should bring a fresh insight into problem-solving, being likely to have seen the same issues before.

Know your people

A candidate who already knows the job inside out could easily become jaded. Be careful to challenge an experienced recruit appropriately in these circumstances. Find out why they left their previous employer. Don’t assume that everyone is looking for promotion. If you are dealing with someone who thrives in a steady job, be sure to put them into a role where you need a reliable, safe pair of hands.

Ultimately, recruitment is about knowing your needs, and understanding your people. By doing that, you can match the two in a way that suits the intrepid new starter with raw talent, and the experienced recruit wherever they are on their career journey. Providing you know the facts, you will be able to get the best out of every appointment.


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