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Years, Years and Yet More Years

Years, Years and Yet More Years

I shared a post on LinkedIn recently regarding somebody’s experience being measured in years (https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6501120035099070464). This is something that I encounter literally every single day in my role, whether I’m speaking with a client looking for that mythical Accountant with 412 years’ post-qualified experience, or whether I’m discussing an opportunity with a candidate who assumes that they must have 10 years’ experience, despite only graduating 18 months ago. Although Years versus Practical Experience is something that is always at the forefront of my mind, sharing the above post really got me thinking.

In theory, it’s a simple request when reviewing a new vacancy’s job specification – “a candidate must have 3 years’ experience working in an accountancy practice”, or “must have worked in the manufacturing industry for at least 5 years”. Don’t get me wrong, experience for these roles is obviously a necessity, you couldn’t walk down the street, pick up that bloke down the local Wetherspoons and expect him to run the Finance department of a multinational company with no vetting or no experience (who knows, maybe he is already doing this job, I’m not here to judge); my issue is what exactly is the hiring manager looking for? It isn’t a candidate who has a set number of years’ experience, because what could that person with 5 years’ experience do or understand, that a candidate with 4 years and 363 days’ experience not do or not understand?

So, returning to my initial point, “what exactly is the hiring manager looking for?” Usually we find that what they are looking for is a candidate who is continuously and sustainably comfortable with what they do and the industry in which they do it – this can be displayed in a variety of ways, but ultimately it is down to a) the individual, and b) that individual’s working and technical experience. They could have 5 years’ experience in a certain industry, but if this is an extremely low turnover, low volume, low-pressure company, would they still be the right person for a vacancy with huge responsibility when compared with a candidate who had been doing a similar role for 3 years, with a larger company, with larger turnover and with larger volume?

What I’m basically saying is, there are a few hiring managers/company policies etc, that are extremely black and white when a common-sense approach is surely the better way to go and would work out much more successfully in the long term for your Finance department / Accountancy firm?

Let me know your thoughts…