How to recognize true experience

Here’s a situation. You are looking to hire someone to do some work for you. You receive two resumes. One, let’s call her Maddy, has worked for twenty years in a large corporation with a household name. She could do specific tasks with her hands tied behind her back. The other resume from Natalie, shows that she has five years work experience. However she worked for a small business and was pretty much a one-person army. Whom should you hire?

You have to ask yourself some questions first. The most important is: What is it you need done?

20 years work does not equal 20 years worth of experience. The definition of experience is exposure to a variety of elements that are relevant to the job at hand. Through the length of time that a person has spent in a particular job situation they would have had more opportunity to encounter different situations. By observing and dealing with those situations they would have learnt how to respond to them in the best possible ways. These experiences would help them anticipate problems before they occurred, possibly use best practices in dealing with them and will have developed a level of skill to implement those practices efficiently.

By contrast 20 years of work without exposure to a variety of situations will not have taught a worker how to deal with an unfamiliar situation. Many workers in large companies do only one or a small collection of tasks repeatedly over many years. They can be completely disconnected with the other tasks in the production line and therefore may not have an appreciation or an understanding of how to produce the complete solution. In addition their limited exposure would have deprived them from the skill required to produce the product in its entirety. In small companies or companies that rotate responsibilities years of work translate into many years of true experience and exposure to many facets of the job. It makes them more “holistic” workers with better skills and more breadth of knowledge about their line of work.

So ask yourself again. What do you need? If is a small collection of tasks that you want someone to do blindfolded, then many years spent practicing that would be useful.

If you needed a more rounded worker able to tackle various things, then examine the experience listed in the resume and see how much varied exposure they had.

I hope you found this useful. Let me know. Send me a comment.


Thanks for reading.



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