Experienced vs Passionate

When hiring for your company or organization, what do you look for? Do you look for the person that looks great on paper, has all the qualifications you’re looking for, and has years of experience in the area for which you are hiring? Or, do you look for the passionate individual who’s “Why” is more important than the “What”? Do you seek to find the experienced individual with time under their belt, or the up and comer that has passion, desire, and fervor? What’s a better hire for the company, experience or passion?

It’s a sick cycle in the world of employment. Companies want people to apply, but they are looking for experience. There are plenty of passionate people wanting to gain experience, but companies won’t hire them because experience trumps passion, and ultimately, the individual is back where they started; willing to apply, but not chosen due to lack of experience. How is someone to get experience for a position if companies never provide the opportunity for people to gain experience? Here’s what I have found, the more experience a person has, the less passionate they are about their “Why”. Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t refer to everyone, but I feel the majority fall into this category. Time seems to drown out meaning, purpose, and reason.

Leaderships’ role is to mentor their team. If you hire only those who have “experience”, who is there to mentor? Is an experienced person willing to be mentored more than the new, passionate individual. Passionate people find meaning and relevance in their work. They don’t see their job as something they need to do, but rather something they want to do. Passionate people put everything they are into becoming better and strive for success. Experienced people used to have the same drive, and some still do, but over time, passion fades unless the person continues to challenge themselves. 

Here’s an example. Let’s say your company or organization is hiring for a new head of marketing. You have hundreds of applicants apply. Some have over 20 years experience, others 10, and some have one or two. Then you have applicants who apply, knowing they may not have the experience, but they sure do have the passion and the drive to succeed. Who do you cut and who do you interview? Are you looking for the same old same old in your company, or are you looking to improve and change with the market? Who would know more about new trends in the market, the experienced applicant or the passionate applicant?

Barbra Corcoran, an American business woman and founder of The Corcoran Group, said it best when she said, “You can’t fake passion.” Passion comes from within. It is something that drives an individual and moves them from “have to” to “get to”. Passion is the force that pushes through barriers. It is the perspective that makes a job never feel like a job. 

When you are looking for people to hire, are you looking to just fill an empty position, or find the right person who will make your company even better? Are you wanting to take your department, organization, company, what have you to new heights, or looking to stay mediocre? There is a significant difference between hiring someone with experience and hiring someone with passion. And if you find a person who has both, you have hit the jackpot. However, if you are stuck choosing between a person with one or the other,  I would strongly encourage you to take the individual with passion. That person will pour everything they are into helping their team succeed. And more than likely, their passion will start to rub off on other members of the team.

As a leader, however, you are not off the hook after you hire the passionate team member. It is your duty to come alongside them, mentor them, support them, and encourage them. Listen to them and provide positive, constructive feedback that will help them gain experience. It is the aim of the leader to train, equip, and mentor their team. It doesn’t matter if you are a low level manager or the owner, the aim doesn’t change, only the team members do. 


  1. Passion can be worth more to a company than experience. Even if a person lacks experience, the right leadership will hire the passionate individual and guide, support, and mentor their new recruit. Gaining experience while being passionate about what one is doing, not only helps the individual, but brings positivity to the company or organization.
  2. Experience is only good if it is followed by passion. When people get into a career, they are usually passionate about what they are doing. However, over time, that passion seems to fade and the job becomes a job and nothing more. It is only when a person keeps pushing themselves and striving to be better that passion stays alive, and a job is something one gets to do.
  3. Passion is contagious. When someone is passionate about what they do, there is a tendency for their passion to rub off onto others. In turn, the shared passion revives the dull-hearted and brings about positive changes to the team. 
  4. The aim of leadership is to train, equip, and mentor their team. Do not lead from the side, from the front, or from behind a desk. Lead alongside your team. Be amongst them and listen to them. Provide constructive, positive feedback that will help your team become great. The job of a leader is to mentor their replacement; let that sink in. 

Passion outperforms experience any day. The next time you are looking to hire, choose the passionate applicant.

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