If you’ve ever been in charge of hiring then you’ve probably have had this debate before. Do you choose experience in the field? Or do you choose the person with raw talent.

 There are many scenarios where experience is a must. For example, in management positions, if a person has no relevant experience as a manager, you’re going to want to opt for the experience. Taking on a person that has succeeded in an individual contributor and promoting them into management is a very risky proposition. The two roles are not alike. While the person may have successful experience in the field, you won’t know if they can translate that success into another role, let alone helping others be successful. The only scenario in which you could hire someone with no managerial experience, is if they have taken leadership courses.

In this current climate, I would not blame others for opting for experience. Less training, less ramp up period, and more of a sure bet. However, for individual contributor roles, I personally lean towards talent over experience. Research has shown it takes individuals 1-2 years to be fully productive. Some managers may not have that time or worry that the candidate may not work out anyway. To that I would counter, what if the person with experience isn’t actually good or they’re not motivated to succeed compared to when they were younger? You’re likely to give that person at least a year, maybe two to show it was the right decision, but at year two you might have to cut your losses.

            It’s all a risk, but I do know that hungry dogs run faster. If you give an opportunity to someone that has been begging to get into a developer role or a sales role, you can bet that person is going to work harder than most to succeed as much as possible. And if they have more talent, their output of production should exceed that of an experienced person by year 3. While that’s definitely a good chunk of time, would you rather someone average at their job for 5 years? Or do you want someone who really excels at their job and is grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow. I lean towards talent and attitude coming into the job, but I don’t blame managers for hiring for experience either.