When running a business, the conventional wisdom is to stick with hiring people with years of experience, but the truth is that inexperienced candidates can be a great choice too. Inexperienced candidates can be someone who is still in school, an intern, or a recent grad lacking the typical 3-5 years of experience. The conventional wisdom of hiring experience is understandable: you want to minimize risk. Like David mentioned in Don’t Be Afraid to Pull the Trigger, if there’s a perfect hire, you shouldn’t hesitate, but perfect candidates don’t exist and there will always be a risk involved with hiring, no matter who it is.
The “perfect” candidate can actually be someone without much experience, but with loads of potential. Young people are often eager to learn, adapt, but most importantly, brimming with fresh ideas. Experienced candidates are experienced because they’ve been trained and used to a certain way of thinking, which can be handy in certain situations.
When you opt for experience, sometimes it’s about peace of mind. If you accept that no hire is without risk, and there is no such thing as a perfect candidate, then you’re opting for the safest option. Opting for experience is not a bad thing by any means, and for more senior positions, it’s prudent, but to exclusively hire people with experience means the same pool of candidates from similar companies with similar ideas and it becomes stale and stagnant.
Experience is never a sign of what they can potentially deliver, but a sign of planning for the worst; both an experienced and an inexperienced candidate can blow your socks off with what they can do, but the experienced candidate offers you a better “worst case scenario,” so if you were to grade their work on a 1-100 scale, experienced candidates’ work ranges from 40-100, whereas an inexperienced candidate can give you anything from 0-100. The peace of mind that experience gives you isn’t without merit, but you might be setting the bar a bit low, focusing on minimizing the risk of failure instead of the potential success.
Sometimes, you can have your cake and eat it too: offer someone an internship so there’s no risk to your business, all while giving them a chance to prove themselves. If it goes well, they get a job and you get a good addition to your company; if not, they get internship experience and you’ve avoided paying someone for shoddy work.
At the end of the day, you can do your due diligence with hiring and interviewing, but you’ll always have to take a chance on someone. If you’re going to take a chance on someone, why not take a chance on someone who’s young and inexperienced and oozing with potential? Who knows, you might end up with a loyal employee with fresh ideas who will grow within your company!