Stronger Habits - Pete Leibman

Executive Search for Companies
that Make the World Stronger

Should You Hire A Rising Star Or A More Experienced Candidate?

Clients often ask me whether they should hire a rising star or a more experienced candidate. It’s a very common question that every company ponders as it fills various roles. In this article, you will learn the advantages and disadvantages of hiring someone less experienced or more experienced. You will also learn how to decide which kind of person makes the most sense for a given situation.

Advantages of hiring a rising star

Here are three of the main advantages of hiring a rising star:

  • Rising stars are usually hungrier and more likely to feel like they have something to prove.
  • Rising stars are usually more adaptable and easier to coach, train, and mold.
  • Rising stars usually have lower salary requirements.

Advantages of hiring a more experienced candidate

Here are three of the main advantages of hiring a more experienced candidate:

  • Hiring a more experienced candidate can attract more attention for your company in your industry.
  • More experienced candidates might initially be seen as more credible by their peers and direct reports.
  • More experienced candidates might be able to get off to a faster start.

How to decide which kind of person your company needs

There are clearly some tradeoffs for hiring a rising star vs. hiring a more experienced candidate. Here are three questions that your company can ask itself to decide which kind of person that you need for a specific role:

(1) What is the budget for the role?

Compensation is a practical and important factor when considering candidates at different levels of experience. More experienced candidates typically have higher salary requirements, and that might put them out of your price range at times. If compensation is an issue, then you might need to consider rising stars who are less expensive.

(2) How will this role fit into the organizational structure?

You should also consider the people that this role will interact with closely. More specifically, who will this person report to, who will their peers be, who will they manage (if anyone), and who else will they work with closely?

For example, if this role will manage a team of very experienced employees, then you might want to focus on more experienced candidates, since they would likely have more credibility with the team that they will inherit. On the other hand, if the role will be an individual contributor, then it might be better to focus on rising stars, since they would likely be more comfortable working without a team.

(3) What type of business situation will this person step into, and what are the top goals for the role?

In addition to the organizational structure, you should also consider what business situation this person will step into and what he/she will be expected to do. Give some thought to your company’s size and stage, your company’s greatest challenges, and your top goals for both your company and the role.

For example, if your company is a small start-up that is struggling to build credibility with customers, then a more experienced candidate might be critical for enhancing your brand. On the other hand, maybe your organization has a long history, but you are viewed as old-fashioned and unimaginative. In that case, an innovative rising star might inject the energy and fresh perspective that your company needs to be more competitive.

Do you have to have to choose one or the other?

Whenever you find yourself asking whether to choose “Option A” or “Option B,” it’s always smart to ask if there is an “Option C.” There usually is.

In this case, “Option C” would be a candidate who has both a strong track record of success and a lot of runway and future potential. In reality, that should be the goal of every hire that you make. Look for people who have already delivered impressive results, yet whose best days are still ahead of them- due to their grit, energy, ambition, and other intangibles.

If “Option C” is not possible for a specific role, then use the questions above to determine whether it makes more sense to hire a rising star or a more experienced candidate.

P.S. Looking for more help with your company’s executive recruiting efforts?

Download my free eBook below, or contact me directly to schedule a call.

About the author: As the Founder of Stronger Talent, Pete Leibman recruits exceptional leaders for companies that make the world stronger. Throughout his career, Pete has helped clients recruit exceptional leaders at the Board, C-Suite, Senior Vice President, Vice President, General Manager, Managing Director, and Director levels. Pete’s work has been featured on Fox News, CBS Radio, and Fortune.com, and he is the author of two books and over 150 articles on career management, healthy living, high performance, and executive recruiting.

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