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3 Reasons Why Years of Required Experience is Hurting You

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The logic behind having years of experience on a job description is flawed. For the last 20-years, I have challenged just about every hiring manager, HR leader, TA leader, and business leader on this topic. Their responses typically fall along the lines of:

- We can use this information to weed out the inexperienced applicants
- We already have current employees with more experience
- Our compensation bands are based on years of experience

I’ll make this simple: these are nothing more than excuses. Yes, internal equity can be an issue if not properly addressed. It’s easy to base compensation ranges on years of experience because it’s measurable. The truth is, it isn’t a measure of success, skill, performance, or anything else of value. The number is irrelevant in supporting the goals of the business as well as the required outcomes of the position.

1. Experience doesn’t equal skill

Having years of experience in a certain role doesn’t mean that the candidate has the specific skills you’re seeking. Shift your focus instead to the unique skill set required to excel in the position. Breakdown these skills and find ways to measure those instead. For example, if the position necessitates leadership experience, define what applicants must know how to do and quantify it.

2. We all know what happens when we assume

It makes an ASS out of U and ME. Considering years of experience means that you’re assuming everyone learns at the same pace and in the same way. A candidate could have 10 years of experience and still be less educated or skilled than someone with 5-years in the same field. People learn at different paces, through different experiences, and under different leaders.

3. High performers get overlooked

A candidate with less experience that has the skills necessary for a role is ahead of the game. Focusing on years of experience hurts both them and your organization in the long run. By using these restrictions, you could be completely missing out on high-performing, hard workers. By investing more time to hone their skills and learn at the start of their career, they’re being penalized and your team could be overlooking a valuable new member.

The fact of the matter is, years of experience isn’t a KPI of any position. It’s also most certainly not a S.M.A.R.T goal. Job descriptions should primarily focus on skills and performance in order to find the best candidates for your open positions.

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