65% of employers prefer that all job candidates have relevant work experience. This means that only 35% of employers will consider hiring an inexperienced candidate, leaving inexperienced workers with a significantly lower chance of being hired.  

However, there are many benefits to hiring someone who lacks industry experience. Candidates without relevant work experience may be more flexible with learning their job position since they do not have “go-to” methods.  

While many employers prefer to hire someone with relevant work experience, there are many advantages to having a more skills-based approach when hiring.  

Consider how they are supposed to gain experience  

How will someone gain the experience that companies desire, if all the companies they apply to only want experienced workers? Many job descriptions require a minimum of at least one to two years of relevant work experience. This can be extremely defeating to jobseekers that may have the skills needed to perform well, but do not necessarily have the required experience under their belt.  

Instead of requiring a minimum amount of experience required for candidates, consider what skills are necessary for a job and think broadly about the education or experience needed to demonstrate those skills. For example, many college students and recent graduates find it difficult to get a job or internship because they do not have experience, but employers should consider what skills may be learned through college courses or even seemingly unrelated jobs. 

This issue impacts more than just college students and recent graduates. The average person has around 12 jobs during their lifetime. Many people change jobs due to economic conditions, layoffs, lack of opportunities for advancement, poor benefits, change in lifestyle or location, etc. Finding a new job under these circumstances often comes with a change in industry, making it difficult for individuals to have the direct experience some employers require.   

 Instead of focusing so much on relevant experience, employers should think more broadly about the skills the job requires and how that applies to their list of candidates. Focusing only on direct experience could lead to passing up someone who might actually be the perfect first for the job.   

Ask candidates about their skills rather than experience 

Experience is what a candidate has accomplished or done in the past, whereas skills can currently be offered to a company and continually be developed.  

Here are some important candidate skills to think about when creating job descriptions and interview questions: 

  • Communication  
  • Analytical thinking 
  • Teamwork/ collaboration 
  • Accountability  
  • Strong work ethic 
  • Leadership 
  • Professionalism 
  • Problem solving 

Contemplate if relevant work experience is more important than overall experience 

Candidates that have little to no experience should not be dismissed, because they can add value to your company.  Ask questions that help you learn what skills they have developed through previous jobs or life experience.  

Focusing on skills can help you hire qualified candidates that have been overlooked in the past, creating greater diversity, and promoting a more skills-based culture.  

Skilled workers bring talent, creativity, and value. Ponder these suggestions when you have your next interview and decide if skills are more, or just as beneficial as relevant work experience.