Hiring potential vs experience 

4th November 2020

by Martin Groschwald

If you are a hiring manager, I am sure you have come across this particular issue. And if you are a candidate you most certainly have faced this. How does the hiring process accommodate the need to assess and hire the potential in people rather than just filling the position/need right now?

This is particularly true when hiring creatives on or into management levels, especially when hiring externally into a Companyand its structures. Itcan become averydifficult and complex endeavour.

If you lookabit deeper into the complex world of hiring creativemanagement, you will quickly realisefourmain questions: 

  • Do I know where I want this open position to be in the nextfewyears? 
  • Do I know where I want this open position to be in the nextfewyears? 
  • Do I hire a candidate with great management potential or a great creative? 
  • Do I have an internal structure in place where these potentials can besupported anddeveloped?

Of course, all of these questions can be equallyadaptedforanon-managerial position,but its important to understand that we are movingawayfrom a hiring culture that required a lot of input,to an environment where internal creative teams get smaller with a stronger focus on IP and USPs. This is of course partly caused by budget pressure,but also by the fact thedesignexperience plays a more and more important role in the process of mobility design.   

Letsgo furtherinto what these questions mean. 

Do I know where I want this open position to be in the nextfewyears?

This might sound very simple, but a lot of positions are filled to accommodatethe immediate need. We should however askourselveswhatwewould likethis positionto becomein the next 2-5 years. If it is just a short-term fix,we have other options.   Instead,we need to make sure our selection process becomesfuture-orientatedwhich will have a serious impact on howwehire for that position.Dont get me wrong, experience and past accomplishments are a goodindicator,but they always look into the past. 

Do I have the right hiring process in place torecruitthe candidate with the best potential?

Hiring for long-term gains means we must look differently at candidates applying for positions.This does however require more information on the candidate than normal,to be able to assess the potential to develop.Thiscan sometimes be theargument a hiring managermay use to hire a candidate they know,but dont be fooled it also means they know what the applicant cannot do (which can also be very helpful). Is there a further qualification tool that helps the hiring process to determinethe best possible fit? A neutral assessment is often the best way forward,which also explains why a lot of positions are still placed with the support ofhead-huntersor intermediaries.

Do I hire a candidate with great management potential or a great creative?

On the hiring side, this is probably the toughest thing to admit.How many of you hiring managers have hired or even promoted a highly talented designer into a leadership position knowing they might nothave the full potential to lead a team? There is no shame in it, a lot is down to the fact that progression (mostly in salaries) is bound toamanagement pathandnot on a skill path. Andsometimes the decision may be to promote someone with great talent to a level that might not be a great fit, rather than lose them.Whatis often the challenge, isto find people that can think both creativelyand logically(a 50/50 mix is ideal).  Few people can combine both thought processes and spottingthemcan sometimes be even harder.But a good manager and leader should be able to make such a decision for the best of the products and company. 

Do I have an internal structure in place where these potentials can be supported and developed? 

Once you have hired your new high potential colleagueor promoted an internal candidate,it is not just enough to allow themtogrow on their ownin their new environment. Are they being given the tools to leadtomake the best possible decisionsfor the product and company? Once you have spotted a leadershiptalent, it must be nurtured and supported to achieve new heights. This can be done via training, coaching, workshops etc (examples are new management methods, culture input,etc). And it should bea continuous process. Leadership andmanagementarea mix of talent but also training and constantly working on it. The job is to foster creativity and this is not only done with a  sketch. 

Hiring potential requires a shift in mindset to how you approach your hiring process.But the benefits of a strong management team that will lead your business in the future will no doubt outweigh theeffort to do this.