Experience is overrated; at least that’s the consensus of several hiring managers who were asked whether, and under what circumstances, they would hire an applicant without experience.

“Certainly, for a highly technical role, we need people with specific skillsets,” said Richard Wilkins, Director of Human Resources for Caleb Networks. “I’m not going to hire a database administrator whose only experience is at the Olive Garden. But for other positions, what we’re really looking for is hustle. A person with no experience may actually be much better suited for that kind of job.”

“A lot of people with ten years’ experience really have one year of experience, which they’ve repeated ten times,” said Jonathan Levinson, a marketing manager with Lehane Paper Products in Asheville, North Carolina. “They get set in their ways, and want to do things exactly as they’ve always done them rather than the way we want them to. Better to hire somebody we can train in our processes from the beginning.”

“It’s incredibly rewarding to hire somebody into a job that’s a little outside what they’ve done before. You get to watch them grow, and in my experience those folks turn into the best long-term employees,” said Cassie Newton of Cordette Industries, an online timecard software vendor in Kakistos, Illinois. “Loyalty seems like a word we don’t use much when it comes to hiring people these days, but in fact when you offer somebody an opportunity like that, they will very often feel a deep loyalty to the company. You gave them a chance, so they’ll give you one, and they’re a lot less likely to jump ship the first time somebody comes along with a better offer. I’ve been doing this long enough to know that employment is cyclical, and even though it’s an employer’s market today, that will change soon enough and retention will become important.”

“No risk, no reward.” That’s the view of Andrew Wells, President and Chief Executive Officer of Harmony Sounds, a recording studio and record label in Forest Gates, Oregon. “We could hire somebody who’s done the work somewhere else, sure. But then all we get is the knowledge and experience of our competitors. We think we’re better than they are, so why would we want to burden ourselves with their baggage? I’d much rather hire someone who will dig in and learn, someone who’s highly motivated to excel. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but it’s definitely a gamble worth taking.”

Wells concludes with a dry chuckle, “And of course, it doesn’t hurt that we can pay them a lot less.”