Does experience matter? Recruit differently


“Those who change the world are the ones crazy enough to think they can.” Steve Jobs.

I often think, how must it have been for the late Steve Jobs? A visionary who saw a better way of doing things.

How do you sell this idea to the world that prizes certainty? Where better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.

Steve Jobs wasn’t the first to invent the smart phone technology. In the late 1990’s Nokia had already predicted the future of mobiles, they had invented a phone with a colour touch screen with a single button. It connected to the world wide web and could be seen, locating restaurant, playing a game or buying a product. All this, years before Apple.

Begs the question. What happened?

What Nokia failed to do was to take a step outside their comfort zone into uncertainty.

Nokia were known for great mobile devices that connected the world to speak. They decided this would remain their focus. This was who they were and they abandoned all smartphone projects.

I tell this story because I am reminded about where I’ve seen uncertainty in the workplace. There is no clearer example than in the world of recruitment.

Early in my career, I found myself sitting in front of a CFO of an iconic Australian retailer. He sat, explicitly stating that he only wanted candidates with fashion experience. In his next breath he said “Australian women were never going to catch onto online fashion.”

Boy, was he wrong!

Long story short, I found someone he approved of. Another accountant with fashion retail experience.

It didn’t surprise me that when I read in the Financial Review years later that the company was in serious trouble.

My first thought – What would have happened if the CFO recruited for fit instead of experience? What would have happened if he embraced uncertainty and took a candidate from a different industry? Would they have been better prepared for the future?

Instead of looking for another candidate just like everybody else on the team, what would have happened if they looked for an individual based on who they are instead of what industry experience they had?

Would this company still be standing today?

Having worked with talent from around the world, I’ve realised that embracing uncertainty opens up opportunities and possibilities. You bring with it innovation, diversity of thought and experience. You enable growth. You give potential a place to flourish.

What will you do the next time you are faced with uncertainty? I know what I’ll be doing.

Especially curated for you: I am enough. Three words that changed my life