Hire for experience or potential

Tim Reed

Genevieve Deaconos, 16 June, 2020

Through first-hand experience and observation, Tim Reed has noted an important disparity in how Americans and Australia approach recruitment: Americans tend to recruit for potential, while Australians favour experience.

At the QUT Business Leaders’ Forum on 9 June, Tim Reed, President at the Business Council Australia, spoke about his time working with a range of well-known technology companies in Silicon Valley. When he moved from America to Australia to work with MYOB (eventually becoming CEO in 2008), he noticed a remarkable difference in how the two cultures went about recruiting new talent.

Tim observed that Australians were inclined to be almost formulaic in their approach. They hired based on what someone has done in the past, looking retrospectively at their achievements.

In America, however, the primary concern was whether the person had the potential to be outstanding.

“There was only one thing that mattered. If you as the hiring manager believed that person was going to be a star,” said Tim.

Tim’s own approach is a combination of the two.

“The reality is, we don’t just want to hire stars. I always ask myself, will this person succeed in the role, and will they form a stronger team with their peers?”

“There are some people who do play very strong individual roles, but there are other people whose impact is in the way they bring a team together, the way they can make everyone contribute more.”

This approach of hiring more for attitude and potential than a specific criteria of experience has many benefits. While they may be harder to assess, soft skills such as a candidates’ motivation to learn new skills, their ability to deal with failure or criticism, and their capacity for collaboration play an important role in determining their likelihood of success.

Interested in hearing more? Hear Tim Reed's QUT Business Leaders' Forum talk.

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Genevieve Deaconos

Genevieve Deaconos

Events & Engagement Manager, QUT Business School

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