How your potential is even more important than your experience
Has a person with less experience than you been offered a job you know should have been yours? You have the credentials, the proven track record, the success – you’re the perfect experienced candidate, a shoe-in. Until, the lesser-experienced candidate shows the interviewer their mountain of potential.
Oh ya, potential – the part you completely overlooked during the interview. Instead, you rested on your laurels. You decided your experience and all the nice things people say about what you’ve done would be enough to get you the job. Don’t feel badly, this is what most of us do. We work hard to gain experience so we can show off our accomplishments. I’ve always thought that demonstrating what you’ve done and can do is what employers want to see.
Apparently, experience isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. According to a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, employers (and people in general) are interested more in a person’s potential rather than the awards they’ve received. The study’s researchers conducted a number of case studies based on a variety of scenarios from a sports manager’s preference when choosing top athletes, to an employer’s choice for job candidates. What they found was that people in hiring, promoting, recruiting positions prefer “the next big thing” to the current “big thing”.
Psychologist and author, Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson writes that when looking at job candidates the study “compared perceptions of someone with two years of relevant experience who scored highly on a test of leadership achievement, versus someone with no relevant experience who scored highly on a test of leadership potential. (Both candidates had equally impressive backgrounds in every other way).” The researchers found that although evaluators acknowledged that impressive experience looked good on paper, they preferred someone who could demonstrate potential.
This is all great news for candidates with little experience. Here is the key to your job interview – show them what you could do. Share your ideas on how to improve current processes, or what you can and will be able to achieve. Let the hiring manager know they’re going to be missing out if they don’t offer you the job. Your pitch is your potential.
But what about seasoned professionals? Where does this leave the rest of us who have experience under our belts? This is excellent news for our lesser-experienced counter parts, but all the hard work we’ve put into our careers must count for something.
The good news is it still does, but don’t just count on your experience to get you the job. You have experience, but you still have potential to do more. In fact, this study may just confirm for you that you should go for the promotion, or the job with greater responsibility. You have experience all you have to do now is convince them you also have a ton of potential.