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Expertise Over Experience – Strive For Adaptability

Expertise over ExperienceIn a tight talent market, it is critical to look for expertise over experience. Think of expertise as that person with ability to adapt unrelated skills to the current challenge. That is what builds expertise and makes experts out of people on your team. Starting with high-probability team members requires unique leadership.

Experience, on the other hand, is doing the same role over and over, year after year. That may increase efficiency over time, but with diminishing returns and increasing boredom. Experience after a certain point in time does little to grow adaptability unless there are other influences.

The reasons are obvious, but more often than not, hiring managers get hung up on experience. It seems safe to search for candidates that have done the job before. But those candidates bring little else in terms of new ideas, innovation, and new DNA into the organization. The answer is simple. Look for candidates who demonstrate adaptability as a trait with a thirst for learning. More thoughts to consider follow.


Gone are the days of long-term tenure, where expertise comes with long (long, long, and longer) tenure. Companies looking for candidates with four or more years experience are going to find candidates that turnover months after being hired. Then that position must be filled again. In today’s work environment, tenure in a job is on average, between 18 and 30 months (1.5 to 2.5 years). If you don’t believe it; Google it. The data is readily available.


In parallel with shorter job experience tenure, People get bored in a job that does not constantly offer new learning and new challenge. Employers must find a way to keep employees engaged. opportunities for learning, and individual growth. Employers that do this out perform those that focus on the revolving door of turnover.

Accelerating Job Change

Today, qualified talent has hundreds of resources to learn. From Coursera (online college courses from University of Illinois to Stanford – some are free!) to the local professional networking groups that present learning opportunities every week. The name of the game is to constantly learn. If you are targeting candidates that are not driving their own growth through learning, you are in a race to the bottom. Hiring candidates not motivated to learn leaves your business to competitors that offer learning as part of their core culture. Those competitors are in a race to the top.

Change Mindset First To Find Learning Candidates

How do you find the candidates that are going to help you be in the race to the top? You must first grasp the truth that hiring someone who is already bored is a bad management decision. Then hiring managers and leaders must intrinsically understand that any candidate that did the job you are filling at another employer for 4 years isn’t going to be satisfied with just more money, benefits or perks. They need challenge, learning opportunities, and must see a culture of employee engagement.

Breaking free from impossible expectations that a candidate wants to do the same thing for more than 3 or 4 years is difficult for managers writing job descriptions. Instead, look at your job as an opportunity for a candidate with less experience doing exactly what you need. Re-frame your job opening around the need for adaptable skills that bring in innovation, new thinking, and greater growth for both candidate and your company. You want new talent coming in to think outside the box. That’s a learning candidate.

One Interview Question To Ask

To identify candidates with the skill of adaptability, all you have to do is ask one question: Tell me about a time you solved a problem that you had not encountered before? Ask them to tell you what unrelated experience the candidate applied to this situation? Ask them how they achieved and measured their results and managed the project/task.

Rethink Skill Tests in Interviews

All too often, we give skill tests to applicants and candidates. And, they can be a crutch that promotes abdication of good interviewing and candidate selection skills by hiring managers. Skill tests tell us what the candidate knows relative to the specific skill the examination evaluate. However, they don’t help us understand if the candidate has adaptable skills, nor how the candidate applies his adaptable skills. That’s going to come from careful screening and behavioral interviewing that your recruiter can help you do.

Leverage Barton Professional Placement Group

Barton Professional Placement Group knows how to find learning candidates, apply the interview question to extract adaptability potential. We consult with our clients to help them understand the effect of the shrinking tenure on their competitive advantage. Our process as a trusted advisor to clients opens discussions about the dynamics of employee engagement on accelerating job change. Call us today to learn how we can apply our technique to help progressive clients like you become competitively advantaged.