As I’ve spent the better part of my adult like in 2 different careers, one thing that has always frustrated me is the idea of experience. It’s necessary for just about every job that you are looking for, unless, of course, it’s entry level. But how does one get experience unless someone actually gives them a chance early on.

Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve been privileged to be given some great opportunities. A fair share of those opportunities came out of relationships, people I knew, people my parents or friends knew, but there is also a fair share of opportunities which came from sheer perseverance and determination. You know what they say about the squeaky wheel, sometimes you can bug people just enough to actually make them consider you.

I don’t think that I would be as frustrated with the sheer lack of opportunities for people with no experience if I actually believed that everything people put forward as experience was truly worthwhile experience. I have a friend who told me about a boss of his who was responding to his frustration over the experience wars. His boss told him not to confuse 30 years of experience for 1 year of experience repeated 30 times. While someone may have worked in a profession, field, or specific job for 30 years, if there has been no or limited growth in them during that time, can you actually say that they have all of that experience?

When people look to hire someone new and they find a candidate who looks promising with little to no experience, are they willing to take the risk? Are they willing to reassess their decision and be willing to admit defeat if the risk doesn’t work out in the future? Is it just safer to go with the experience?

While I understand the premise of going with the experienced person, I have seen people take risks and flourish too many times to dismiss the importance of it. I have seen people who were given an opportunity at great risk to those who hired them and the risk was totally worth it. While I’ve also seen the converse to be true, the long-term results for taking a chance and seeing a person flourish are much greater than having one failed risk. Chances are pretty good that a person who has had risk taken on them will likely take risk on someone else in the future. If every person who has been risked for is willing to take a risk on someone else, can you imagine how many more developed leaders could be in place?

There may be other factors in when to take a risk, but judging from my own personality and experience, I think that there is one factor that would make me stand up, perk up, and take notice of someone with no experience: teachability. Is the person who has no experience teachable? If they are, they will be hungry and eager to learn, always wanting to know new things, always wanting to better themselves. But if they are not teachable, it could be a major disaster, they don’t know how to do something and just don’t see the point of learning it.

Teachability can trump experience, certainly not with every job, but with a lot of different things. I would much rather have someone on my team with little experience and a willingness to learn than someone who has “tons” of experience with no pliability or teachability within their DNA. To the person who is teachable, there is always the possibility of learning. To the person who has experience, there is always the possibility that they already know something already. Knowing something already can easily lead to a closed mind and an unbending spirit. I know which kind of person I would much rather lead, how about you?


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