Hiring for Potential vs Experience

As a professional recruitment firm, the value we provide to our clients is hyper-targeted recruitment for candidates whose experiences align with the mandate of the position. These recruited candidates are almost always talent an organization was not able to source or attract by themselves. 

This is generally why a recruitment firm is used, but at some point along the path to building a company, a CEO or Founder will need to decide whether to hire for a candidate’s potential or for their experience.

We’ve often seen this internal struggle and here are some insights and the top lessons learned during our 20 years of recruiting whether the time is right to hire based on potential or a specific set of experiences.

Hire for Potential When:

  • Your budget for salaries is unable to attract someone with experience or subject matter expertise you were originally after 
  • The role is a supporting cast member and has the opportunity to be coached by more experienced team members 
  • A candidate you are considering has a previous track record of reinventing themselves professionally 
  • A potential hire has come highly recommended by someone who knows your business and whose opinion you trust and value

Hire for Experience When:

  • Recruiting for any leadership position
  • A candidate worked for your competition and was successful
  • The business is not hitting its numbers
  • You have committed outcomes to the board or VC firm of what the hire will be responsible for achieving/doing
  • About to or have recently raised money 
  • The economy has taken a downturn or is uncertain
  • Reduction in turnover has become essential 


As you can see, different stages of a business require different hiring strategies. If you’re looking for a subject matter expert, well-regarded leader, or someone with a specific set of experiences, it may be time to consider hiring a niche recruitment firm

Martyn Bassett Associates is focused on helping startup CEOs and Founders find strategic Product, Sales, Marketing, Customer Success, and Engineering leadership talent. Book a consultation with us today to discuss your company’s growth plans and hiring needs.