When to consider hiring candidates without experience

It’s no secret that the current hourly labor market is the most competitive of this generation. While consumer demand is on the rise, the hiring challenge remains.

COVID-19 had a varying impact on different industries—with jobs in grocery, on demand and warehouse skyrocketing, but jobs in restaurant, retail and hospitality just now recovering—many workers have been forced to change industries as a result. Therefore, just because a candidate has little to no industry experience, it doesn’t mean they’re not worth your attention. In this landscape, it’s more important than ever to consider transferable skills and general personality traits that make them a trainable team player, and therefore an asset to your small business. 

The benefits of limited experience

Sometimes employers equate experience with performance, but that’s not always a direct correlation. While previous experience can be  a good indicator of job success it’s definitely not the only one, which is why workers with less experience can be a valuable addition to any business.Candidates with no experience may be more receptive to training than experienced candidates. More seasoned candidates are more likely to fall into ‘mental ruts’ when it comes to working methods or best practices. A candidate with no experience is a blank slate, ready to take on training specific to your business, and may even be more likely to spark innovation with new ideas or practices.

Balancing experience and training

On-the-job training can help offset any gaps in a candidate’s previous experience. It’s a balancing act: the less a candidate has of one, the more they’ll need of the other. But that doesn’t mean you should think of training as a burden. Instead, see it as an opportunity.Workplace training boosts efficiency, encourages retention and even helps the economy. Structured training programs also show new employees that you appreciate them, which is especially important considering 79% of workers who quit say they felt underappreciated.Training also gives you extra control over how your business operates. You can establish methods and best practices in line with your business values. It is especially important now, as businesses prepare for reopening after coronavirus, to establish specific training that  ensures the safety of your staff and customers.

Attracting the right candidates

A recent Snagajob survey showed that 1 in 4 jobseekers reported not finding job postings that match their experience. If you’re ready to consider less experienced candidates for your open positions, it’s important to ensure the job posting is written in a way that captures what is truly required of the role. When writing your job posting keep in mind the following:

  • Capacities: What capabilities, mentally and physically, are required of the candidate

  • Attitudes: How the candidate approaches the role. Are they dependable, motivated, professional?

  • Personality: Traits that might help the candidate perform well, including approachability or confidence

  • Skills: The candidate’s previous relevant experience

Notice how relevant experience makes up only a quarter of what you should be looking for in an ideal candidate. If you break down the role across these four areas you might find that a candidate’s attitude or personality is more important to their success on the job. When considering candidates, bear in mind that you can always train up an inexperienced candidate, but it’s a lot harder to change their attitude or personality.

Look for passion

Of course, training is only valuable if the trainee is willing to receive it. Passion and motivation are two of the most important factors when it comes to recruitment. An inexperienced candidate that is willing and eager to work for you, is much more likely to become a valuable worker than a candidate with lots of experience but no motivation. 

The best place to see motivation is in the interview—ask for examples of a time the candidate demonstrated passion in their work, or ask what makes them particularly excited about the role they’re applying for. 

Assessing potential

Finally, remember that recruitment is about the future, not the past. Everything from application to interview is about assessing the potential of each candidate. How well could they perform in the role? What would they bring to the business? Although some of that can be determined from previous experience, a full resume is not always a perfect indicator of the right fit.



Tom Quinn |
Categories: Hire
Tom (he/him) is a growth marketing manager at Snagajob helping small businesses find hourly workers.