Minimum 2 years experience - is it really that important?
Does more experience really make a better hire? isn't it all about context?

Posted on Apr 25th, 2019 by James

Bringing in talent to your organisation has a substantial amount of risk (and further increased when thinking about a 'bad' hire)

That means different hiring managers will certainly have different risk aversion techniques. One of the commons ones is the focus on longevity of experience - EG. Minimum 2 years experience or to use the role title as an indicator of experience such as ‘Senior Developer’. So in one view point I can understand why organisations put these types of risk management techniques in place. Hypothesis being, if they've had more experience then they are more likely to 'hit the ground running' and thus the risk profile of this hire is lower.

But...I think there is possibly another way of managing that risk.

Whenever someone new joins a team their Context Based Experience (CBE) will generally be very near to zero. CBE would be things like how the team interacts, how to get the best out of your team members, how your team members get the best out of you, how the CI pipeline is setup, what the deployment process looks like, what coding standards the team have in place, what framework do the team have by which they make tech choices etc etc etc there are lots of things that will in portion be bespoke to that team.

Instead of saying minimum 2 years experience I think another approach might be to focus on someone's capability to 'get up to speed' or in commercial terms go from zero CBE to becoming productive because EVERYONE will go through that cycle irrespective of years experience.

By focusing on that element, it will allow an organisation to look at the role and say "Ok, of things we do here, what really is common, what really would you see in any organisation". Those fundamentals such as most places will use some form of version control (git probably) and generally will utilise some form of 'agile' process such as Scrum or Kanban. Those transferable, common place skills are the things that you want to avoid having to train.

Then whatever skills are very bespoke to your organisation, identify whether the individual you are interviewing has the capability to learn them and if so try (although difficult) to assess the speed by which they might pick them up - IRRESPECTIVE of years experience.

That time period represents your true 'cost' before releasing someone's incredible potential and the value they will undoubtably add.

We're doing some research on this at the moment and we'd love to hear your views.