This continues to bug me, so I wanted to put my thoughts out there.
Any day of the week I could pick up a job advert or a job description and see any one of the good old bullet points:
- Must have 10 years experience in sales.
- 8 years experience in XYZ industry required.
- Minimum 5 years experience using ABC.
The number of years in a role, in an industry or using a particular technology doesn’t equate to competence.
Someone can perform the same role for 10 years and, yet be less experienced or skilled than a person with five years in a similar role. It all comes down to what you did in that time, the skills you used and the competency level you achieved, including the outcomes you have delivered.
When I see this and, as I said, I see it daily even in our own business, I call it lazy recruiting. It usually means all parties haven’t really drilled down on what they want and why? Why do you need eight years and not six years? I have at times had to shape conversations with clients who have asked for 10 years experience; with a technology that hasn’t been around that long. Has the number, whatever it may be, become a safety blanket? Is it a fallback position, “Oh well if they have 10 years experience, they must know how to do this” without really spending any time to drill down and understand what makes up that experience, and what they have been exposed to and involved with in that time.
Recently, I had the pleasure of being a judge in the 2020 RCSA NZ Industry Awards and was judging the “Rising Star” category. I was truly excited by the submissions I was reading, which were all backed up with internal and external references, and achievements. The quality was high, and my personal winner was a guy who had about three years recruitment experience coupled with plenty of life experience in a different career path.
He was demonstrating all the competencies and behaviours I would expect to see from a more seasoned recruiter. His financial performance was fantastic but what really grabbed my attention was his approach to building a sustainable business. His engagement in the wider sector, giving back to people entering the industry he recruited in and finding ways to add value to his clients.
If I stipulated number of years in our industry or in a role, this consultant would have never been on my radar. How much talent are you not getting to see because of a number? I urge you to look at your job descriptions and look at your adverts, and question whether you have fallen into the numbers game.
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