Workplace Ready New Hires

As the economy continues to improve, most of us will consider adding new staff to either build on our current capacity or replace those that left during the economic downturn.  As we consider candidates, a key decision relates to the role of experience in the new positions.  For some, relevant experience may be less important, while others may consider experience a primary predictor of future success.   With the number of talented, new graduates that are looking for work, it is likely most of us will consider, if not select, someone without a lot of work experience.  As we all know, results of that decision tend to vary.

According to Aberdeen’s recent research on new hires (HCM Trends 2014: Developing a Critical Eye for Talent), only ten percent of organizations believe that “college hires are ready to contribute to business-driven initiatives as quickly as other new hired.”  Although one might assume that specialized job skills create this gap, the results point to basic work skills as well.  Some of the biggest gaps occurred with critical thinking skills (53 percent), general business skills (45 percent), and personal leadership ability (27 percent).  Moreover, sixty-eight (68) percent of respondents feel that the market does not possess the level of talent needed.

What does this mean?  It means that when we hire, we may not be hiring “job ready” candidates.  The ideal would be that new hires would quickly come “up to speed” on the culture and processes in our organization and begin to contribute in a short period.  When basic, yet necessary skills are not present, a larger investment is needed, as well as more time must be expended before anticipated productivity can be reached.  A simple comparison of the difference appears in figure below.  A recent survey by HCS of a large financial employer illustrates the differential depending on the level of experience.


Time to Skill Attainment (Months)

No Experience

Basic Skills


Job Specific Skills


Past Experience

Basic Skills


Job Specific Skills


As illustrated in the Figure 1 results, experience significantly reduces the time needed to be able to demonstrate skill attainment or competence.  An employee with experience reaches competence with basic skills in less than half the time of those without experience.  Moreover, when considering job specific skills, it only takes one third of the time to reach competence in job specific skills.

What does this tell us? Experience does matter. 

As you look to hire talented, new graduates, look closely at their work experience and internship participation. 

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