Education Career Services

October 7, 2009

Does experience count or not? How many years of success in a particular skill set does it take?

LinkedIn: Career and Education Q & A

Offering support to as many people as possible via multiple mediums, I am an advocate of social networking.  As such, I am on LinkedIn and often respond to questions posted on that site.  I’m easy to find and welcome you to take the first step and invite me to join your network.  After all, we all need a helping hand now and then!

Below is one question (and my response) recently submitted on LinkedIn.  I bring this to you as the question may be pertinent to just about everyone, including students and directors at all levels…

Does experience count or not? How many years of success in a particular skill set does it take?

“John” has an MBA and 2 years of experience – he’s a general manager at a well-known retail establishment. He hires, trains and coaches sales associates. He runs the shop.

“Sandy” has a BS and 20 years of experience – she’s a writer who reports to “Beth” who reports to “Jim” who reports to “Sally” who reports to “Frank” and she’s not “allowed” to do anything without it being delegated to her.

“Jeff” has an MS and 20 years of experience – he’s out of work and cannot get a job because he is “overqualified”

What the heck is going on?


Your example is rather unfair and is riddled with much rhetoric and unknowns. Unfortunately, answering your question directly is not as easy as one may suspect.

As a business owner, I strive to seek individuals who own a good five years of accomplished results. For many hiring managers, individuals offering too much experience come with too high a price tag. Is this fair? I think not but these are lean times and if there is not a significant ROI, the more experienced will not be more attractive.

Then we have the problem with the word itself, “experience.” Simply being in a job for ten years does not qualify as being experienced. For many companies, progression within a field is paramount to years in the field. Your example of Sandy’s situation is a case in point.

So, what makes a candidate attractive to a hiring manager?

* Education: displays commitment to progress and an ability to assign and complete a task.
* Experience: displays an understanding of the workplace.
* Progression: displays a proven ability to do more than what a job role may be as well as the ROI factor.
* Personality: displays a team ethic and common goal.

Naturally there are more elements which constitute an ideal candidate but notice the emphasis is NOT on the amount of years on the job. What’s important is what impact an individual had while on the job. As a college instructor and dean of academic affairs, I encouraged students to continue their educational pursuits to secure their dreams.

Think about it, if you were a hiring manager, what elements would you consider to influence your decision? I thought so…

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International
Education Career Services
407-206-5883 (direct line)
866-794-3337 ext 110


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