Kid, You’ve Got Potential—Why That’s More Important Now Than Ever

by Ann Connor

You hear two things very often when you’re looking for a job: 1) Experience counts above all and 2) It’s all about who you know. And while some of us know from experience that neither can be true, there is a lot to be said about the juxtaposition of both statements: what lays behind them and how that can help the way your company hires.

Experience clearly proves, “I’ve been there, I’ve done this.” Which can be an extremely reassuring thing for a hiring company to hear. Relief. There is little that needs to be taught. This is wonderful—let’s interview! But what is it about the “It’s all about who you know” phrase that not only rings true but can also be effective in the hiring process? Often, it is potential. No, that individual may not have been there or done that, but this person who is vouching for a candidate’s potential to get there and do that is someone you trust, admire, respect, right? So, okay. Let’s interview. It’s more gut decision than it is a calculated one. And here are the two key reasons why you should follow your gut instinct on someone’s potential instead of their experience:


Interviewees that demonstrate potential strike an interviewer for obvious reasons—they are intelligent, fast-learners, and aren’t afraid to boast about what they can do (i.e. make future changes and innovations) for a company instead of what they have already done for other companies. In an economy that is ever changing, it may be more beneficial to have a fast-learner than it is to have an old dog with great tricks.


When focusing on an interviewee’s potential rather than experience, you broaden your hiring pool to reach untapped big talent instead of battling for already sought after talent. Experience, though often a strong indicator of what someone is capable of, does not measure fairly against those who have not yet been given a chance to prove what he or she is capable of (think veterans, candidates who didn’t follow a typical career-progression ladder, or candidates switching from other industries, etc.).

How has hiring based on potential helped your company? Share with us!





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