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Hire Me Because I’m “Under-Qualified!”

I have to admit something. When I started my job here at Mindjet, I had no previous experience with corporate culture. I held temporary positions in Legal offices and Non-Profit organizations throughout college, but the temping world is (usually) a far cry from that of the permanent one. After a little over three years of freelance journalism and working almost entirely from the comfort of my own home, the switch wasn’t easy. In fact, it was — and occasionally still is — quite difficult. But I also think my lack of traditional experience is one of the main reasons why I’ve come to fit in so well.

David K. Williams, CEO of Fishbowl and writer for HBR and Forbes, got me thinking about this with a recent post (The Case for Hiring ‘Under-Qualified’ Employees). In it, he defines a few reasons why hiring novices might be of more value to your company.  Some of my favorites include:

  • Less-established employees have more room for growth
  • No bad habits to break; only good habits to learn
  • New blood tends to carry a level of enthusiasm that is infectious
  • Employees are naturally inclined to stay with the organization that allowed them to blossom (less turnover!)

Now, I don’t mean you should rush out and hire people without knowledge of your particular niche. Mindjet certainly wouldn’t have hired me if all of my previous experience was in cooking or construction. Nor do I think people with tons of relevant experience should be ignored. What I am saying however, is that there’s a big difference between under-qualified and inexperienced. And the latter has nothing to do with the amount of potential.  As Williams puts it, “I maintain that most any company, particularly in the growth phase, is better off by discovering potential stars in the making and creating a healthy holding environment that allows and encourages them to grow.”

I myself am growing within this culture and every day I’m more attached to it.  This in turn makes me feel happier and more thankful/dedicated to a job than I ever have before. And so perhaps as a part of developing best practices for Agile Business and desirable business culture, we should rethink exactly why we hire people and what’s really of value in the long run.

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