Most job seekers, especially at the beginning of their career journeys, will face the ‘experience dragon’. For some companies, this dragon stands firmly at the gates to even entry level positions, meaning many talented individuals will get overlooked due to their ‘lack of industry knowledge’ or ‘lack of relevant work experience.’ And don’t get us wrong, experience is, of course, extremely valuable. It most likely means the person you’re about to hire will be aware to some degree as to what they will be doing day to day, meaning (hopefully) they don’t decide they don’t like it half way through their probation and quit. It might also mean that they require less intensive training time, and less supervision. From a frank and financial perspective it could save you time and money. On the other hand though, just because a person, graduate or not, has no direct relevant experience, it doesn't mean they wouldn’t be worth investing in.
Really, the answer to this question remains with the interviewer and the role the candidate has applied for. Let’s face it, every role will require different characteristics and skill sets, and to some extent personality will always have an effect on someone's perception of a candidate. But in some roles it’s perhaps more important than others. But let’s just use one example as an axis for discussion. Let’s say you own an Estate Agents company, and you’re looking for someone to join your team.
So, in this scenario, why would experience give you the advantage? If you’re looking for a member of staff, it probably means business is booming and you need more hands on deck. You need someone to help with the workload and fast… In this case, you might wish to hire someone who has already worked in the property sector. A candidate who is completely new to an industry is, of course, going to have streams of questions and need more guidance in general. As a smaller business you may not have the facilities to train someone from scratch, or have the capacity to assign another more experienced member of staff to support them. A new starter, in any industry, must have that support and attention to nurture them into the role.
Even if the candidate hadn’t directly worked in property or in an estate agency environment, experience in other related fields would still be beneficial. They most likely will integrate into the role smoothly, and they will already harbour many transferable skills that had been gained by previous jobs, like strong communication, phone manners, and most importantly confidence. In 2019 UCAS posted a blog reporting that ‘a survey showed two thirds of employers look for graduates with relevant work experience because it helps them prepare for work and develop general business awareness.’ (UCAS)
What’s more, a candidate that has actively enrolled, and worked relevant internships, part time jobs and apprenticeships (especially if they’re doing them alongside uni, children, charity work etc) can be a reflection of work ethic and personal initiative. It proves they have an active and genuine interest in the field of work they are trying to pursue.
There is alway a risk attached when hiring someone with zero or little relevant experience, in the sense that as an employer you’re relatively in the dark about who they are and their capabilities… but that’s where personality can be a real game changer.
In any industry, having personable skills as an individual is imperative. At the end of the day, you as the employer, need to find someone who is going to not only be able to do the job well, but someone who will integrate into the company culture. Especially in small working environments, it is crucial that the team can work well together as a unit. Personality not only impacts your team morale and productivity, but your customers’ impression of your company too. Whoever you employ is going to actively represent your business and sometimes, no matter how much experience someone has in a particular skill, having them organically share your fundamental company values could be more important. In fact UCAS said that the first thing to look for is someone with a personality that fits in with your office culture. ‘Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality. If you can find people who are fun, friendly, caring, and love helping others, you are on to a winner. Personality is the key.’ (UCAS)
Recruitment Agencies who care
As specialist recruiters we recognise the careful balance between personality and experience, and can help employers and job seekers across a multitude of industries find their perfect match. We don’t match up CV’s with applications, we match people with people. If you need our help please get in touch today on 01603 667777.