You likely won’t come across a single job description that doesn’t ramble off a random amount of “required” years of experience. Recruiters assume that a person with 3 years of experience couldn’t possibly have the same skillset as a person with 7 years of experience. They’re so stuck in this mentality that recruiters don’t even speak to the candidate who has less than the “requirement.”

Well, I’m here today to blow the lid off of that flawed logic.

The real truth here is that experience doesn’t always equal skill. Recruiters and even clients for that matter shouldn’t ask how many years of experience a candidate has, but ask what that candidate has learned throughout their career. At the end of the day, aren’t we looking for someone who can competently do the job? Does it really matter how long it took them to get there? The answer is no.

Recruiters, next time you whine about not being able to fill a req, be reflective. You could be dodging the candidates you need because you’re so hung up on a minuscule detail that, in reality, has no real foundation anyway. You’re your own worst enemy.

It’s time to buck up and start recruiting logically. Remind yourself of the following 2 concepts next time you’re hunting for a new candidate.

Everyone learns at a different pace

I’m not afraid to say that I’ve learned things in 10 years that Joe Schmo could learn in 2 years. Millennials, for example, pick up on technology a lot faster than any generation before them. This speed will only increase once Gen-Y’ers enter the workforce in a few short years. When you neglect to speak with a candidate with less experience, you’re doing everyone involved (you, the candidate, the client) a disservice. Plus, the thinking is just too narrow.

Knowledge trumps time

Recruiters don’t spend enough time focusing on knowledge. They invest too much in a measly number that is by no means an accurate representation of knowledge and skill set. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve been in recruiting for only 1 year. During the course of this past year, you’ve repeatedly outperformed a colleague who has 4 years of experience in the field. It’s likely that if you were to apply for your next job, your skills would be undermined by a recruiter. You wouldn’t even get a chance to speak to one another, and that’s an insult. You’re out of the running all because of a number. Don’t be that recruiter.

Let’s look at another example.

Say a recruiter is looking for a web developer who has 7 years of experience. Surely in 7 years a developer has mastered skills X, Y, and Z. That’s enough time, right? A developer with 3 years of experience comes along, but she couldn’t possibly know as much. She hasn’t done the job long enough. So, the recruiter skips over the candidate with fewer years under her belt and moves onto the seasoned developer.

It turns out that, while the seasoned developer has been in the industry longer, he only mastered X out of XYZ skills. He did master other skills, though—they’re all just irrelevant to this particular job. The other candidate, however, mastered XYZ and then some. But by now, the recruiter completely dismissed the more qualified candidate… all because of a dangerous assumption that time = mastery.

If after all of this you come up with the excuse that the client made the experience a requirement, just remember one little thing: it wouldn’t kill you to approach the client. Tell the client that you found a candidate who’s more than fit for the job, but they’re a few years shy of the experience requirement. I guarantee you that they’d be willing to nix the requirement, or at least discuss it. Their end-game is to find a candidate who’ll stick around and do a phenomenal job.

After all, that’s why you were hired. So get out there and do your part!