Does Experience Matter in Food Industry Hiring?

Why do we place so much emphasis on experience when making hiring decisions? Often times we look for an experienced employee, manager, vendor, or partner over someone who has less experience but who is more hardworking, excited, and innovative. Why is that? In my opinion, experience can be a “green flag”- an indicator that this person has been around and therefore has likely seen many of the same situations that they will come up against in their position; they have weathered the storm.

Experience is proof to us that they won’t flinch when times get tough and that they will take less time to make a decision or find a solution to a problem than someone with less experience. 

One often overlooked benefit of experience is the ability to recognize “red flags” or those small signals that a person or situation might become problematic in the future. A lot of time, energy, and money can be saved by recognizing red flags before they fully develop into a problem. Experience allows you to make better decisions, faster. 

Red flags can be recognized in many different situations. One area that we often look for them is team management; if we’ve seen a certain behavior become problematic or destructive to a team in the past, then when we see an employee exhibit that same behavior, we will try to correct the situation and avoid the same destructive outcome. This is a great example of leveraging experience to avoid a costly situation.

There are red flags in data as well. Let’s say that last year we had a bad sales week during the Fourth of July holiday and it caused our summer momentum to stall; what should have been one bad week turned into a bad month before we were able to make any traction on sales and marketing efforts. This year, we will be prepared for a sales dip on the holiday week and have sales and marketing efforts lined up to soften the blow. As soon as we see the numbers come in, we will know that we have to address the sales dip with all resources immediately. The first time that this situation happened it took us by surprise and required considerable time and money to counter. But, the second time it happens we will notice the red flags of a sales dip sooner and will be able to correct our course faster. Experience isn’t the only thing that matters, but if it helps us recognize red flags and make better decisions faster it can be extremely valuable.