Is Experience Overrated?

Author: Mike McDermott, CEO

People who know me well, understand my dad’s influence on my professional career. The majority of my ‘lessons’ occurred before I was in college. He was not a perfectionist by any means, yet my dad expected things to be done right the first time. His typical method was to give me an idea of what he wanted and then let me figure out how to get it done.

One of my most memorable lessons was installing a toilet for the first time. Mind you, this toilet was in a recently vacated rental property and cleaning the bathroom was probably not a priority for this tenant. In today’s world I would just simply google, “How to install a toilet” and watch a couple of the 300,000+ videos to determine the steps. Back in the 80’s one had to purchase all the parts separately and read the poorly illustrated instructions. To make a long story short, I muddled through the unsanitary install which resulted in a functioning toilet. The surface-level lesson I learned was that one had to ensure the wax ring was seated correctly, or the toilet would leak. But, the deeper lesson that’s stuck with me until now remains, experience can be quickly gained in the right environment.

At Zirous, we certainly value the experience and tenure of our staff. With 53% of staff with over five years at Zirous, 28% over ten years and 12% over twenty years; we have significant tenure. Yet, each year we recruit and hire new or recent graduates. We average 25% of our staff with less than 3 years of professional experience. Some employers may see this as challenging, yet I see only excitement.

That excitement stems from witnessing the rapid growth of these individuals. During our hiring process we evaluate many traits of potential candidates. The two that we value the highest are communication skills and teachability. We take the time necessary to invest in the right individuals. Our tenured staff understands the value in this investment, as they were once in a similar position. Our newer staff often amazes our tenured staff on the value they bring to Zirous. Energy, enthusiasm and fresh ideas are trademarks of this newer group. Although our staff works on problems far more complex that installing a toilet, I think we have proven that the right experience can be quickly gained in the correct setting.

If you need a toilet installed, I can point you to some good videos - just make sure you get the wax ring seated. If you find yourself in a hiring situation where you like everything about the candidate but their experience, I suggest giving them a chance. It could be the best investment you’ll ever make.