Past experience. Something we all desperately cling to and rely upon when determining who to hire. However, there is growing evidence that work experience alone is not a reliable indicator of a candidate’s skills and potential for success in a role…
Here are 4 reasons why you should stop hiring solely based on work experience.
4 reasons why you should stop hiring solely based on work experience
Work experience does not show you the level of skills a candidate has
Work experience alone does not provide a comprehensive assessment of a candidate’s skills, as it only reflects the tasks they have performed and the knowledge they have gained in previous roles, not their underlying abilities or potential for future performance.
In fact, 55%* of HR professionals say that they place more importance on a candidate’s skills and abilities, while only 39% say that they place more importance on work experience.
However, the reality is that someone who is familiar with a specific sales framework for only 6 months can end up mastering it even more than someone who has been using the said framework for years. At the end of the day, this boils down to their skills and ability to learn.
If skills and abilities are valued and matter more, then why are still 4 out of 5 job advertisements explicitly stating that “x years of experience” is a hard requirement to apply?
Work experience is very firm-specific
The relationship between work experience and job performance is influenced by the specific demands of the job, and the fit between the candidate and the organization. The fact that someone did well in their previous job, does not necessarily imply they will also do great at your company.
Think about it – firm-specific knowledge is a requirement to excel at any job. For example, the role of an Account Executive at a company that sells pre-employment assessments is completely different from the role of an Account Executive selling event ticketing software.
The labour market is changing, and so is tech
As an employer, have you considered the impact of the changing labour market on your hiring practices? With 85%* of all jobs in 2025 not yet existing in 2023, it’s becoming increasingly unrealistic to rely solely on work experience as a predictor of success in the job market.
New jobs are emerging, so how can you expect to hire for x years of experience if those jobs haven’t even been around for that long?
On top of that, imagine you’re hiring for a marketing position. With the rapid growth of marketing technologies, it is unrealistic to expect that any single candidate will be proficient in all 9,932 identifiable marketing technologies in 2022.
The pace of change will be (and plot twist – already is) so rapid that people will learn “in the moment” using new technologies. A moment when cognitive abilities like learning ability, for example, will be more valuable than the knowledge or past experience itself.
Hiring based on work experience fosters discrimination
A person’s potential is so much more than their experience or the opportunity they’ve previously been given – yet this is the sole focus of the CV-based recruitment model.
62% of organisations screen candidates using resumes, putting individuals with diverse characteristics and from diverse backgrounds at a disadvantage. Here’s how.
It perpetuates unconscious biases. For example, a recruiter may see that a candidate has worked at a prestigious company such as Google or Microsoft and assume that they must be a top performer. On the other hand, they may overlook a candidate who has worked at a less well-known company, even though that candidate may have a similar skill set and experience level.
Inherently limits diversity. Relying solely on work experience can limit the pool of candidates to those who come from similar backgrounds and experiences, resulting in a lack of diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, age, and other factors. The most prevalent example that comes to mind is hiring for software engineer roles.
If you’re looking for people who have experience in software engineering, it basically means you are automatically discriminating against women as engineering is a field heavily male-dominated.
It discriminates against non-linear career paths. Hiring based solely on work experience can lead to discrimination against individuals who have changed departments or roles throughout their careers because it places too much emphasis on linear career progression. For example, a person may have started as a sales development representative but then moved into a technical implementation consultant role.
Even though the technical implementation consultant role may require similar skills and experience to the job they are applying for, their resume may not appear to be a good fit for the role because it does not follow a traditional career trajectory.
You’re hiring for the future, time to stop looking at the past
We are looking for talent the same way we did 40 years ago, but as time goes forward, so should our approaches to finding the best talent.
When looking for someone new to join your team, you are hiring them to do a job in the future.
Not for doing a job in the past.