Talented Rookies or Experienced Pros?

One of the ongoing debates in many organizations is whether to hire young, unproven talent and develop them or engage experienced, savvy but more highly salaried professionals. There is an answer, and of course, it is that it depends on the situation.

Personnel should always be hired based on the requirements of the job. Here are many of the factors to consider:

  • Is the work time sensitive?
  • Is the work very important and can mistakes be tolerated?
  • Is the work highly technical requiring an experienced mind?
  • Is the management talent available to guide and train less experienced staff?
  • Does the client for whom this work is being performed have an expectation that it will be performed correctly the very first time?
  • Will the individual performing the work have to exercise political savvy in performing the work?

You’ve no doubt noticed that one of the factors not included is cost. This is because it often costs more to have a less experienced and lower salaried person perform the work. Less experienced staff often will need to try multiple times to get it done correctly. Oftentimes, they will need management guidance every step of the way.

When I started my first company, Flash Creative Management, I thought that hiring bright, young people was the way to go. Flash was a service based business specializing in strategy development, business process redesign, and software development to support the client’s strategies and processes. My thinking was that I’d have a greater profit margin between what we would charge the client and what we were paying the staff.

Within a few years, it became very clear that for Flash, this was not the right approach. Our clients were willing to pay a premium dollar for important services done right the first time. And they wanted dramatic results.

Less skilled talent had lower salaries but the cost of rework, management time and – this is very important – the hit to the brand we were trying to develop — were significant.

When we shifted to more “expensive” and experienced staff, our business’ growth accelerated dramatically.

So “situationally” speaking —

If the work is either very important, highly technical or does not allow for errors or is time sensitive or requires political savvy, go for the proven and experienced talent. It will prove to be a very prudent approach that will save you money.

There is a place for young talent as well. They will perform very admirably in an environment where fresh ideas are required. However, it is equally important in order for them to be successful, that a nurturing and supportive environment that is comfortable with experimentation be in place. Management needs to be patient and be willing to guide and train extensively.

Explore posts in the same categories: Hiring, Leadership, Strategy

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