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Senior or Junior: When to hire for experience vs potential

Senior or Junior: When to hire for experience vs potential

With recruitment becoming a candidate-driven market, employers are reimagining what the ideal hire means for the future of their company. With soft skills gaining an ever-increasing importance in the hiring process, employers recognise that an inexperienced candidate can offer more potential than a seasoned professional.

So what are the benefits of hiring junior candidates as opposed to ones who have a deeper pool of work experience? When reflecting on their company’s business needs, hiring managers have much to consider.

Why hire for experience

The most popular and seemingly logical option is to hire the candidate who has the most relevant work experience in the context of the role requirements and industry. This candidate will be able to begin their duties with an existing knowledge of best practices, meaning that less time and money will have to be invested in training.

This is usually a preferred option in senior or urgent hires, when the company has to have certain goals achieved or to make up for an unexpected departure. When the role is mid-level, however, options become less black and white, and leave room for risk-taking and long-term vision.

Why hire for potential

Unorthodox for more senior roles, this option is a risk that may pay off when done strategically.

For companies struggling to retain talent, hiring a younger or less experienced candidate can nurture and pave the way for the company’s next generation. For a business that has particular or rare requirements that only a niche pool of talent can relate to, hiring someone with less experience allows businesses to train and mould new hires into an employee that fully understands the vision and mission.

So that businesses can thrive in the new world of work, they must be adaptable and innovative. In hiring fresh talent with little experience, this innovation may come with a new employee who can offer a different perspective and ideas. Innovation comes with thinking outside the box – companies suffering from stagnation may benefit from this method.

If brands are additionally struggling to redefine their company culture, hiring talent just starting out in their career can be a safe way to lead in a passionate wave of employees that bring vitality and idealism.

To offer an example, Fahd Rashid, FYTE UK’s Scientific Recruitment Specialist, affirms that the choice between experience and potential can indeed depend on the company’s needs for the future.

I recently recruited for a life sciences organisation which was looking for a candidate with solely GLP experience and was not keen on considering candidates with a mixed background (GMP and GLP), despite them having a more well-rounded knowledge base.

During my time in advising clients in their scientific recruitment needs, I have sometimes seen overly ambitious or strict briefs, not recognising that sometimes for senior roles, it can be better to take somebody in at a supervisory level who can then be trained and nurtured into the ideal manager.

For candidates with not as much ‘relevant’ experience, I would nevertheless recommend having at least a scientific degree, so at least there is a foundation level of transferable skills and knowledge.

I have also noticed that investing in workforce development costs businesses less in the long-term when it comes to replacing departing employees, not to mention the stress this causes if they leave during a busy period or crucial project.

If you need a partner in hiring talent in the new world of work, or looking for new opportunities in the same market, please don’t hesitate to drop me an email on

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