Now a days it seems like most recruiters are looking for applicants with one thing and one thing only: experience. If you or someone you know has had to go through an application process in the recent past, that word probably made you shudder. How does it make you feel when you are judged by your experiences alone and not your capabilities? You may have trained for something your entire life, but never had an opportunity to express it because that is how the deck was dealt to you. Is that really fair in terms of life or employment? We've all been taught that life isn't fair and being close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. But sometimes you are closer to the ideal candidate than you would think.
tal·ent : natural aptitude or skill
By this definition, talent is something meaning "natural" or in other words, you are born with it. So what does this mean about skills we were not born with but have acquired and strengthened over time? Are those skills less valuable as opposed to talent? It becomes a slippery slope when you start getting down to the brass tax of what talent acquisition really is. Talent acquisition implies that someone already has the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job from the very first day. That may be ideal as a recruiter depending on the nature of the job. But what could be more valuable to your organization is the opportunity to hire an employee who is malleable; someone you could teach and shape to fit the position and organization. The next best question to ask is not, "Do they already know this," but "Do they have the ability to learn this."
Screening Candidates May Require More of Your Time
Sure when screening for talent, it may be more apparent right away if someone has the necessary experience (ugh that word again). But when it comes to screening based upon skills, it may require employers to read more between the lines of an applicant's resume. It may even require an interview to gather more of the applicant's story that is not on paper. The questions to ask in this instance are, "What have they learned in the past? Do they know similar things? Do they have a track record of recovering from hardship?" When you give someone the ability to reveal relative experiences, you may find out that it builds upon their current skillset that may not have been the definitive "Seven consecutive years of experience" that you had originally defined as desirable.
Talent vs. Character
How do you measure resilience? How do you measure growth? These are valuable assets today on the job market and it's difficult to evaluate from the perspective of talent and experience. Sometimes you have to dig deeper and spend another minute with an applicant to become a better judge. When you think the talent pool is running out, take a minute to expand your mind and widen the tunnel of your vision. Even today's best innovators had to start somewhere as we are not all born brilliant from the start like Mozart was (he wrote his first minuet at age five). The ability to learn and the desire to grow with a role should also be closely examined.