Is Experience Overrated? Would You Take a Pass on Patrick Mahomes?

Have you seen more than a few job announcements saying that applicants must have “at least five (or ten or some other number) years of experience?”

That’s never made sense to me.

The assumption is that a particular number of years of experience confirms a certain amount of competency, but nobody has ever proved that “Experience = Expertise.”

In fact, we all know people who have been in a job for 5 or 10 or even 20 years and still don’t do that job particularly well – and certainly not well enough that anyone would want to lure them to do that job at a new organization.

If you were an NFL coach looking for a quarterback, would you prefer Patrick Mahomes, in only his second year in this job, or, say, Ryan Tannehill , who has “five to ten years” of experience? (To non-football fans: Mahomes is quickly establishing himself as a standout quarterback, despite his clear lack of experience.)

So, if you’re filling a key job, take another look at your job announcement, delete any mention of “years of experience,” and substitute text that addresses valuable areas of expertise and identifies the most important specific skills you need.

And feel free to add your comments below.

P.S. My next search will be launched soon — for Executive Director at the Cathedral Choral Society in Washington, DC. Join my list to get the job announcement as soon as it’s posted.