Checklist for employers: How to choose specialists with and without experience

On the digital market it is common to talk about staff shortage, but this factor is successfully superimposed on the prestige of the profession, and entails a queue of candidates. Tina Makarova, HR director of Go Mobile, told about peculiarities of recruitment in the field of digital and shared the matrix of selection criteria for employees with and without experience.

The main reasons for seeking employees without work experience.

Speed. Finding a good employee without experience is almost always easier and faster than with experience.

Economy. Good juniors are quick learners, and sometimes already after a couple of months are able to take on complex tasks.

Loyalty. A specialist who has learned everything at his current company is, all other things being equal, more loyal than someone who has already come with experience.

There is no need to retrain. Experienced specialists often have to be ‘retrained’ to work at a new company. Juniors just have to be taught.

The main reasons to look for experienced employees

Base of contacts. An experienced professional already has a base of contacts. They can later be converted into partners, associates, or customers.

Process understanding. You do not need to teach an experienced employee from scratch – you just point him to the peculiarities of the processes in your company. Moreover, he will be able to look at the existing processes with fresh eyes and suggest solutions on optimization.

Expertise. An experienced professional will not only pick up your projects easily, but will also be able to bring new knowledge and experience to the company.

Criteria for selecting specialists

It is clear that every employer has exclusive requirements for every particular vacancy. However, there are universal parameters which are always worth paying attention to: education, skills, motivation, ambition and previous work experience.

Disclamer! The attributes described below are not an exhaustive list. HR is about working with each individual person, unique combinations of circumstances and a million exceptions. There are many successful HR cases in our company that don’t fit these attributes. But the statistics are brutal.

Starter pack of a prospective junior


Diploma from a top university. Usually digital doesn’t require a specific university degree, and that’s fine. A junior with any background can become a good employee, but a diploma from a top university (Moscow State University, Higher School of Economics, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, Moscow State Institute of International Relations, etc.) is an indicator that the candidate is able to study easily and meet the highest requirements.

Often applicants without work experience respond to several vacancies and cannot decide which direction to take. In order to help the job seeker and save time on checking several tests, an HR manager can look at the education and suggest where the knowledge gained in the university would be useful for the position. For example, a candidate with an economics or mathematics degree has a good chance of becoming a good media buyer or analyst.

Study abroad. Studying or having an internship in a foreign university, as well as travelling under the Work and Travel programme, signal an active lifestyle, experience of adaptation to changing conditions and learning ability.


Knows the basics of basic office software. Understanding how to work with Excel, Word, PowerPoint and email clients is supposed to be developed in school. These skills are present in all CVs, but their mentioning does not guarantee that the graduates have any real knowledge at all.

We do double-check skills of working with spreadsheets, presentations and letters during the test assignment stage.

Good writing skills. Absence of spelling mistakes and complicated Leo Tolstoy-level phrases, as well as correctly spaced commas and spaces in the cover letter is a sign of basic adequacy of the candidate. It’s a shame to waste time on correcting commas in letters when a junior has to learn all the digital wisdom.

Additional superpowers. Mastery of Photoshop, editing programs, the ability to design a website (even in Tilda), or coding is never superfluous in the field of digital. They are also good indicators of learning curiosity, passion and motivation.

Motivation and ambition

Experience is key. We value people who are motivated to gain experience. It’s the “burning eyes” that correlate with rapid professional growth, a willingness to take responsibility and show initiative.

How do you select your vacancies?
How did you find our company?
Why do you want to work in digital?
Which area of digital attracts you the most and why?
These and more specific questions are useful to understand if a person is motivated to work in our field or if he/she just “because everyone else did”.

Wanting to come to you. It’s a good sign that he wants to come to work for you. The candidate has already formed an idea of the corporate culture, conditions, tasks, and for some reason decided that it suits him. He may well be right in his decision.

If the dream company does hire the candidate, he or she will have an extra boost of motivation at the start.

Not afraid of responsibility. The advertising market continues its growth into a pandemic. Companies are growing, the number of tasks is increasing, new channels, platforms and tools are emerging. Every agency has, at least once, needed to put a responsible person in charge of a new product, and the capacity of experienced professionals has already been exhausted. This means that the time has come for a “star” – a recent junior who is not afraid of a lack of expertise, a big unclear project and the need to work hard with unformed processes.

Expertise is the ability to do, and responsibility is the ability to see things through and be accountable for the result. It can be identified even before expertise is in place.


It’s okay if the candidate has no experience in digital, but it’s advisable to have at least some experience.

Field internships. Work experience as an assistant in an agency or creative studio is further evidence of an interest in the field. A desire to stay in digital after an internship also shows that the candidate is aware of the choice of sphere.

The most important thing that such experience gives is a basic understanding of the processes and tasks.

A negative experience is also an experience. Often, it is bad experiences from previous jobs that push people to change companies or fields.

If a candidate has not worked for any star brand and is honest about previous disappointments, it means you have a chance to give them a dream job and gain extra loyalty by contrasting them with their previous employer’s terms and conditions.

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