Hiring for potential vs experience: Which is right for you?

April 17, 2024
Reading time: 3 min

It’s the age-old question: Should you hire someone for what they’ve already done or what they’re capable of doing?

At, Smartexe we manage many tech teams for our clients offshore, so we are constantly evaluating the weighs between experience and potential, and discussing this topic with our clients.

Let’s break down the two approaches, their pros, and their cons:

The Traditional Route: Hiring for Experience

Opting for experienced candidates is akin to charting a course through familiar waters. These individuals come fully equipped with the skills and knowledge to navigate the complexities of their roles.

Pros of Hiring for Experience:

  • Immediate impact: it's a time-saver. Experienced developers can hit the ground running. They can contribute to your team's success from day one.
  • Mentorship: seasoned developers can serve as mentors to less experienced team members, helping to uplift the entire team's skill level and fostering a culture of learning and development.
  • Networking: Experienced hires often come with industry contacts that can be beneficial for partnerships, sales, or recruitment.

Cons of Hiring for Experience:

  • Cost: experience comes with a price tag. Expect to allocate a significant portion of your budget if you choose to hire seasoned professionals.
  • Expectation Mismatch: experience isn’t always a crystal ball for future performance.
  • Resistance to Change: sometimes, experienced developers might be set in their ways, potentially making them less adaptable to new technologies or methodologies compared to their less experienced counterparts.

The Emerging Trend: Betting on Potential or Talent

This isn't just a trend; it's a strategic move towards securing a team that's built to last and thrive, for the win-win of both the employees and the organization. It's all about spotting those bright sparks with a knack for innovation, who can keep pace with the lightning-fast tech shifts, and who bring that unstoppable growth mindset to the table.

Hiring for potential is like setting sail for uncharted territories. It’s about recognizing raw talent and betting on an individual's capacity to grow and excel. Here's the breakdown of why this might just be the winning strategy.

Pros of Hiring for Potential:

  • Long-Term Growth: Individuals hired for their potential often grow with the company, leading to higher levels of loyalty and reduced turnover.
  • Cultural Moldability: Less experienced candidates, especially those eager to prove themselves, are often more open to learning new technologies and adapting to changing project requirements.
  • Innovation: Fresh perspectives can lead to innovation. Hiring for potential often brings in talent who is not afraid to question the status quo and can contribute to creative problem-solving.

Cons of Hiring for Potential:

  • Training and Development: While hiring for potential can save costs upfront, you may need to invest time and resources into training and professional development to help these individuals reach their full potential.
  • Supervision Required: They may require more oversight and support from management and senior team members, which could strain resources if not properly planned.
  • Delayed ROI: The return on investment for hiring someone based on potential may take longer to materialize, as their initial productivity may be lower than that of an experienced hire.

When making a decision, consider not only the immediate needs of your project or team but also your long-term goals and the kind of workplace culture you want to foster.

For instance, if fostering a culture of innovation and continuous learning is a priority, blending hires for potential with strategic experienced hires can create a dynamic environment that promotes growth and adaptability. On the other hand, if your project requires specialized knowledge or you're navigating a highly competitive market, the immediate impact of hiring experienced developers might be indispensable.

At Smartexe, we always make sure we nurture both types of teams. This approach allows us to provide our clients with the optimal team for their unique needs.

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