5 Myths About On-the-Job Training Programs

June 18th, 2015

Jacqueline Lee

Employer Branding, Recruiting Teams, Tips & Tricks

job interview  CareerBuilder recently released its 2015 hiring forecast, revealing some interesting statistics related to on-the-job training programs. According to the report, fifty-eight percent of hiring managers have started hiring workers without any industry experience. They’re hiring people who have the potential to succeed, and then they’re providing OJT. Also, 40 percent of HR managers are investing in training for their current employees. Yet OJT gets a bad rap, and most people assume that it’s not worth the investment or the effort. OJT gives you the chance to build the perfect candidate in-house instead of searching out in the wild to find a great employee. It also helps you develop the hidden talents of employees in your midst. Let’s take a look at five OJT myths and take them apart, one at a time.

1. It’s Too Expensive

Yes, you’d face upfront costs in setting up an OJT program for new hires. You’d need to develop or purchase training materials, and you’d need to schedule training hours, either using current staff or new staff you’d have to hire. Onboarding would take longer, so there would be opportunity costs associated with not slotting a warm body into an open position right away. At the same time, think of a familiar stat we all know: It costs eight times less to retain someone than to hire someone new. Start by implementing OJT for current employees, which will improve your retention. Then, put the savings toward paying for OJT for new hires. You’ll recover your investment…and then some.

2. They’ll Just Go Somewhere Else

Everyone has a horror story: an employee they wooed, trained, groomed, and nurtured who ditched them and went to another company. It’s easy to generalize and assume that’s what everyone would do. That’s not what CareerBuilder has found in past surveys. Ninety-two percent of employees are actually more loyal when an employer invests in their training. For that one employee who broke your heart, there are nine more who stayed, appreciated your investment in them, and built careers at your company.

3. People With Prior Experience Are Better

Think of the people you’ve hired who had the same job title at another company. You thought they’d be able to do the job at your company, except they bombed. The results they put on their resumes occurred under very different circumstances. Also, their years of experience made them rigid and closed off to new ideas. Hiring someone with prior experience is ideal, but only if the person you’re hiring has proven results in a similar situation to yours. When the underlying conditions change—new company culture, new challenges, new management expectations, new team—you can’t just assume that an experienced person always delivers a repeat performance.

4. It’s Someone Else’s Job

Woe to the education system, which isn’t producing enough qualified graduates! Guess what? You’re not going to fix that anytime soon. You’re going to have to deal with the conditions that are, not the conditions that should be. The skills gap is real, and OJT gives your company a chance to do something proactive. While everyone else is searching for the turnkey candidate, you’re bringing in talented people and training them, your way.

5. You Can Train Anyone to Do Anything

The other four OJT myths were about why OJT doesn’t work. This last myth is a little different; it’s the unrealistic notion that you can train any person to perform any job. In truth, when people don’t have a talent for sales, management, or other roles, no amount of OJT can transform them into what you need them to be. An underripe banana eventually becomes a mature banana. An apple never transforms into a banana. It just doesn’t happen.


When you’re hiring, don’t be afraid to take chances on talented people and train them. Also, instead of managing an underperforming employee out of your company, ask yourself whether they have the talent for another role that your company needs. A robust training program becomes an HR profit center, not a cost center. Make an investment in OJT. You won’t regret it. Image credit: Pete Canary