Analyzing the advertisements available on numerous recruitment portals, one can see that in the column of requirements to be fulfilled, the phrase “X years of experience in this or a similar position” keeps cropping up. Such phrases seem to confirm that many companies still attach great importance to long work experience as the best indicator of candidates’ knowledge and skills (and thus also performance leading to expected results).

Below we point out what are the pros and cons of having many years of work experience, and consider whether it is long seniority that is the key factor on which you should base your decisions to hire or reject a person during the recruitment process.

Work experience – advantages for the employer

One cannot disagree that people with long tenure have in-depth knowledge and skills related to their chosen field (most often, although this is not always the rule – it depends on the position held, the duties performed, the desire for development, etc.). Through numerous years of employment, they have gained practical experience that allows them to deal appropriately with various professional situations, especially with challenges that may arise.

Moreover, they know the specifics of the industry, have a wide network of contacts and are not afraid of responsibility and decision-making. Tremendous theoretical knowledge and practical experience are not without influence on performance as an employee. It is also worth mentioning that such people may have a greater sense of belonging to and loyalty to the company, which is also reflected in their productivity.

Work experience – the downside for the employer

While there is no doubt that years of work experience can translate into achieving the results expected by the employer, it is not without its drawbacks. First and foremost, we should note that in today’s dynamic business environment, constant change and innovation are inevitable – and employees with years of experience in the industry may be more resistant to the introduction of new technologies, tools, work methods, etc. Their attachment to traditional ways of doing things can become detrimental to the company as a whole (by holding back or slowing down its growth).

Moreover, long-term occupation in the same or similar position can lead to a lack of fresh perspective on problems, which limits creative solutions and innovation at work. Of course, the aforementioned aspects do not apply to every employee (individual characteristics are of great importance in this case), but it is worth being aware of them.

Long tenure and performance – is this the only element that counts?

Individuals with long work experience undoubtedly have an advantage during the recruitment process in the form of their diverse knowledge and skills, which will not go unnoticed by the hiring manager or HR staff. After all, with their work experience, they will be able to perform their duties properly, striving for the success of the organization as a whole. However, it is wrong to think that performance depends only on this one element. This is because what also counts include:

  • Internal motivation
  • Extensive work experience is no guarantee that employees will be fully committed to their duties, characterized by a desire to “prove themselves” in a new place or decide to put in extra effort for the organization. Less intrinsic motivation, in turn, may translate, for example, into routine or slower task performance, so that productivity satisfactory to the employer may not be achieved.

  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Long tenure does not always mean that employees are well-prepared to adapt to new demands and changes in the work environment. Attachment to methods established over the years can make it significantly more difficult for them to adapt to new technologies, procedures or trends (and also to find their way in the “new times.” Younger employees – but more open to change and flexible in their approach – may therefore be more effective, as they find themselves more easily in situations of significant change.

  • Willingness to develop professionally
  • Regardless of seniority in one’s professional life, it is essential to constantly strive for development, especially in times that are changing so rapidly. People who continuously strive to improve their skills and expand their knowledge can achieve higher productivity. Then the number of years worked plays less of a role (because it can – through one’s efforts – be made up). Employees who stay in the same job for a long time may not be willing to have their resources (time, money, etc.) used for professional development.

  • Physical and mental health
  • Physical and mental well-being should not be underestimated either. People with long tenure, for example, are often more vulnerable to job burnout and health problems (related to long-term stress or overload), which will not go unnoticed in their performance. For those who have been on the job market for a shorter period, the energy to perform may be greater – and translates into the performance achieved.

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Work experience and productivity – summary

While there is no doubt that long seniority influences what kind of performance an employee has, it cannot be taken as its only determinant. As we indicated above, many other factors are relevant in this context – starting with intrinsic motivation, the desire to develop, and physical and mental well-being.

Employers focusing on building an effective team should emphasize carefully assessing each candidate’s competencies and skills, try to understand what their current needs are and anticipate growth potential – while still taking into account the diverse aspects of their ability to achieve the desired results for the company. An attitude of striving to bring together a combination of different work experiences, knowledge and skills within the company is essential for the best possible recruitment decisions.

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Author: Nicole Mankin

HR manager with an excellent ability to build a positive atmosphere and create a valuable environment for employees. She loves to see the potential of talented people and mobilize them to develop.