In the Future, Hiring for Jobs Using “Experience” Will Be STUPID

Guest: Neil Morelli Audacious Ideas, Digital Interviewing, Good HR, Hiring Bias, Interviewing, Performance

In life, experience is important. Mark Twain put it best when he wrote: “The person that took a bull by the tail once has learned sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hasn’t.”

But, when it comes to choosing the right job candidate, “job experience” is a crude and unwieldy tool. Kind of like texting with a foam finger—it can be done, it will just take a while.

The surprising thing is that we’ve known experience stinks as a hiring tool since Savage Garden was big. In 1998, Schimdt and Hunter published a famous study of 19 different selection methods’ relationship with job performance. Job experience (in years) ranked in the bottom third of the list.

To put it bluntly, even though hiring decision-makers use job experience as a default decision-making tool, the science considers it to be “meh” at best. But, as robotics and artificial intelligence change the future of work forever, my professional opinion is that continuing to use experience for hiring will be what we call in the South, “downright dumb.” Here are a few reasons why I think this, and why you should too:

– Technology quickly makes today’s experience requirements obsolete. The speed of technological change is automating entire jobs into extinction, while creating others that no one has dreamed of yet. For the automated jobs, experience won’t matter, and for the rest, putting an arbitrary experience requirement will be a waste of time.

– Employees won’t stick to linear career paths. In the future, workers will define themselves by what they see as their career goal or aspiration, and will pursue the opportunities and projects that best align with that vision. For example, in the future people will say, “I build intuitive platforms to help people connect and share ideas,” instead of, “I am a software developer.”  Restricting your candidate pool to the people that fit cleanly in your standard minimum experience buckets will limit your ability to find those that have the assets and motivation that you need.

– The résumé is living on borrowed time. Back in the day, decision makers had to do their best with a paper résumé to determine whether someone had the necessary skills and motivation to do the job. Experiences, listed in bullet points, were often the best proxies. But, thanks to new technology we have assessment tools, simulations, and digital credentials that we can use INSTEAD of experience to help us determine a person’s competencies and fit. It’s OK to break from the pack and embrace new tools to help you make the right decisions, it’s a brave new world.

So, there’s something to be said for the person who’s grabbed the proverbial bull by the tail in their career. They’ve probably developed the knowledge, skills, and abilities you’re looking for—just don’t expect them all to say “2 years experience as a professional bull rider” on their résumés.