Experience is often undervalued

The value of experience is often overlooked or understated. That is my opinion, born of “experience”… I say that tongue in cheek, but time and again I am taken aback by the naive attitude of many managers I talk to every week who look to hire talent with solutions for the problems at hand.

A job posting two years ago by a well known company calling for 20 years of collective experience was filled by a young man who, apart from his “short time in the chair”, was otherwise qualified and obviously talented. With only six years of experience, though, and a high risk product management problem to solve, my own judgement would have been to “keep looking”, but this young fellow was hired! Hired, failed, fired, sued – what a mess transpired…

A year ago, I volunteered to help pick up the pieces – for a fee. But, my offer was refused, “… we can fix this problem ourselves without any high caliber, highly experienced outside help.” The company’s problems persist to this day, and law suits and countersuits continue to distract this company from its vital business mission. The reason that a less experienced applicant was hired? He was inexpensive at probably half the salary of a fully experienced hire. There is huge value in experience and relationships – when needed most, it is like “gold”.

I called this company today to offer my services once again. The answer from the person who by now I know fairly well was, “Our product management problems today are relatively ordinary and mundane. Today, we really just need a good attorney… Do you know what they charge PER HOUR?” (yes, I do…)

So I preach to my clients, “Hire the best you can, but hire experience rather than a credential if you can, because you will benefit in the long term – it will save you money.” I can’t prove it, but I know “from experience”.

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