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Are you recruiting? Skills or experience: which one to choose?



In a context of labor shortage, hiring new staff is becoming an obstacle course for entrepreneurs.


When selecting a candidate, what should be given priority?

Skills or experience?

There are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches.

Academic training

A candidate’s academic and parallel training gives him or her a propensity to adapt well to new technologies and very current organizational models.

A relevant academic background can be a key factor in an organization’s freshness and dynamism.

However, these operational models are sometimes far beyond those of the employer, who does not necessarily keep up with the technical and technological pace of the industry.

Will the new candidate adapt to the organization, or ask the organization to adapt to him/her? Will the employer have to manage conflicts caused by ideological clashes generated by the new candidate’s unwillingness to adapt to the company’s organizational culture?

Work experience

A candidate’s work experience testifies to his or her experience and potential within the organization. It can be an immediate, reliable and stable contribution.

It’s important to distinguish between work experience supported by a logical path within an organization, and the experience of a worker who moves quickly from position to position, job to job.

Long time experience working in the same position can demonstrate stability. It may also show that the candidate has reached a personal or organizational ceiling in this position, which may indicate that he or she has reached the threshold of incompetence, or a lack of ambition concealed in a comfort zone consolidated by perfect mastery of his or her field.

Steady progress within the same company may indicate great potential for learning and adaptation.

A very rapid ascent within the organization may indicate a wealth of experience weakened by a lack of mastery of each of the positions held, this ascent probably being characteristic of that of a careerist or opportunist.

Historically, employers chose a mix of academic training and experience that optimized the potential and adaptability of individuals. Nowadays, however, employers are confronted with an increasingly unstable workforce and are constantly renewing their teams, to the point where both approaches are of little importance to them.

The urgency of filling a vacancy means that neither approach is favored, and companies are becoming permissive, adopting internal policies, individual training, and cultural and social adaptability activities, hoping to achieve their individual standards and keeping their teams in place by adherence.

This gives them the opportunity to identify talent that they will then ensure is nurtured in the best interests of the organization.

The optimal solution seems to be in finding the individual who stands out either through academic training or relevant experience, and who has a personality that can grow in an environment geared towards individual development.

The implementation of corporate training policies reflects today’s employment reality, which is one of constant renewal of work teams and constant organizational migration.

The changing economic and social context now necessitates new-generation organizational models that can accommodate the volatility of the workforce.

  • Jean-Yves Poitras, Mba, industrial commissioner