Why having no experience is a good thing

Last week, a member of a Facebook group I belong to posed a question about how to counter the “no experience” argument.

He’s a consultant and has been given the opportunity to put a proposal forward for a really big job with a company in an industry he’s new to.  He asked the group how he should best address the “no industry experience” argument that he was sure to get.

There were a number of answers – let them try you out before charging them, give them a money-back guarantee, try to find a connection who can give a testimonial – all of which, while trying to be extremely helpful, were about seeing this lack of experience as a negative.

I couldn’t resist throwing my two cents into this one.  You see, I’ve been on the receiving end of this for the last corporate job I applied for. That particular company was a very well known provider of credit cards and they were looking for someone from one of their 3 competitors to take the role so they could bring “knowledge of the industry and how it’s done here” to the business.

To my way of thinking, that’s ridiculous.  Isn’t the whole point of bringing someone new in to “break the mold” and do things differently rather than bringing in someone who does the same thing – but just getting them to do it for a different company?

So that’s how I framed my answer to the gentleman in the Facebook group.  I said to him that rather than putting a negative spin on his lack of industry experience, he should point out the benefits of having someone who doesn’t know “how it’s done here” and how that allows him the advantage of being able to look at the business with fresh – and disruptive – eyes.

Disruption is what it’s all about these days (but more about that in my next blog).

My Workible Co-Founder, Alli, and I had no industry experience in either recruitment or technology when we started our business.  Given we have a recruitment technology business, you’d think that that was madness.  But it wasn’t.  What it was was an opportunity to look at a problem and an industry and re-invent the wheel.  We had the luxury of giving ourselves free reign to say how do we think it should work without any preconceived ideas of how it “should”.

The result is that we’ve invented a totally disruptive platform that, we believe, will change the way recruitment is done.  And that’s the benefit of no experience.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re applying for your first job or your next job, or applying for a huge consulting contract like my Facebook pal, don’t let your lack of experience hold you back.  In fact, it’s a huge advantage so spin it that way.  You bring a fresh set of eyes to a business, and it allows you to think outside the square.

As an employer, I’m always happy to employ people with no experience – for that very reason.  And any savvy business owner, presented with that argument, would see it that way as well.  Let what others see as your biggest disadvantage, be the advantage you have over everyone else.