Should you hire a newbie or a veteran?

The pros and cons of each type of employee

The question of hiring newbies (new graduates) or veterans (experienced workers) has been an issue for quite some time.
I have been receiving so many emails from both sides, each stressing their points as to why they should be hired over the other.
The veterans are crying “Foul!” when they are discriminated against due to their age.
The newbies are reacting violently whenever they see “with experience” among the qualifications in the want ads, pointing out of course, you cannot have an experience if this is your first job!
Tsk, tsk, tsk!
Two months ago, I was interviewed by Ms. Mari-An Santos of I was asked this question “Should you hire a newbie or a veteran?” This is not a simple question, and there is no clear-cut answer. Surely, deciding on the matter, I said, is on a case-to-case basis.
No one can conclude outright that hiring newbies is better than hiring veterans. Some companies would do well when they hire newbies, while others would be better off hiring veterans. It depends on so many factors.
Hiring officers must carefully think about this, as this can significantly affect their companies. It may be cheaper to hire the new graduates, but they must also consider if the cost-saving measure is really worth it.
Hiring newbies has its advantages, but hiring veterans should also be considered carefully. There are benefits and drawbacks.
Below are some tips, which may guide HR personnel on this issue when hiring an employee:

  • If you have a lot of skilled employees, then hire newbies. Your skilled employees can train the new recruit/s.
  • If the position you need to fill is critical in nature (e.g. a special machine operator), then hire veterans.
  • If you need someone to do the job as soon as possible, then hire veterans.
  • If your company has a high turn-over rate, then hire veterans. If your employees seem to resign in five to six months, you may not have enough time to train a newbie for the job.
  • If your company needs sales immediately, then hire veterans. They already have a list of good accounts to draw on.
  • If your company deals with technology, you may hire newbies. Since systems are always new, they can adapt pretty well.
  • If you are hiring for an unskilled position, then hire newbies; this way, you will save money.
  • If you need a manager or supervisor, then always hire veterans! Not even an MBA from Harvard will do if the person is lacking in actual experience. The only exception to this is if your company can afford to have a management trainee position.

Advantages of hiring newbies:

  • They are less expensive, and willing to receive an entry-level salaries. Besides, they tend to be less demanding in terms of benefits.
  • They are willing to learn; more enthusiastic and excited about their career path.
  • They are easier to manage, and are willing to execute tasks as ordered.
  • They are young, vibrant, and have more physical stamina. They are prepared to work long hours.
  • They are willing to be relocated, and embraces every opportunity for career advancement.
  • They are willing to take new responsibilities.
  • They can bring technology to your workplace. Nowadays, there are computer classes in practically all colleges.

If you want to keep up with technology, hiring newbies will be a plus. Your company will surely benefit from their proficiency with the latest gadgets and software. Ask about Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, infrared connections, memory sticks, they know it.
Disadvantages of hiring newbies:

  • They have no proven track record.
  • You shoulder the high cost of training. Hiring newbies may be false economy. You have to check and double check their work. You can be lucky, but at times some may not be trainable (for example, some may not yield sales even after many months of training).
  • They must be supervised, taking valuable time from the senior employees.
  • Their substandard performance may result in crucial errors during on-the-job training.
  • They can quit quickly, raising turnover rates at your office.
  • They can be easily bored, or unable to focus attention to their work.

Advantages of hiring veterans:

  • They are skilled, and already know what they are doing; they have high degree of competence. Some have travelled and have been exposed to different cultures, and can adapt to various work situations.
  • They may commit fewer, or even no mistakes.
  • They can contribute ideas to your company, based on their past experiences.
  • They have proven track record. They are likely to have more experience, and probably more education (some are already taking up post-graduate studies)
  • They take their job more seriously.
  • They can perform duties as soon as possible.
  • They can work with minimum or no supervision.
  • You can find out about their actual performance and sometimes even their attitude by checking with their past employers.

Disadvantages of hiring veterans:

  • They require higher salaries, compared to hiring newbies.
  • Some are resistant to try new ideas. They have developed too many habits.
  • They may demand higher benefits (like health insurance, educational loans for their children, housing plans, car plans, etc.)
  • Family obligations may limit willingness to relocate, travel, or do overtime if needed.

Whether you hire a newbie or a veteran is an important choice that must not be made without long consideration. Making the wrong decision could greatly affect your operations.
There is less risk when you hire a veteran; you are guaranteed of someone who is knowledgeable on the job.
However, hiring overqualified personnel will burden you with unnecessary overhead. There are situations where it is better to opt for a newbie. If somebody can train them well, they can work and grow with your company at a bargain price!
*Originally published by the Manila Bulletin. Written by Ruben Anlacan, Jr. (President, BusinessCoach, Inc.) All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or copied without express written permission of the copyright holders.
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