Why Years of Experience Don’t Matter

Why Years of Experience Don’t Matter

Yes, you read the headline correctly. Years of experience do not get people hired. Why? Because experience does not equal success or future value. For example, I can claim 30+ years experience as a runner. Does that make me a candidate for the next Olympics? Could I be a track coach? Am I even a good runner?  No. Just because I have been doing something for a long time does not mean I am good at it.

Which is more impressive:

30+ years experience running on asphalt, concrete, turf and trails in varying weather conditions ranging from sun to rain to snow.


Marathon runner, completing 22 marathons with an average time of less than 3 hours each. Leader of running team raising money for cancer patients.  Led 19 individuals through a total of 83 races, increasing speed of average runner by 18% and raising more than $10,000 for charity.

Extensive experience presented without achievements and progressive successes may imply you just did the same thing over and over again without growth or improvement. It may also imply you’ve been doing things the same way for 30 years.  Long and deep experience must show progression, increasing achievements and continual evolution if it is to be an asset in a job search.

Frustrated job seekers, especially older workers, often say “It seems like my years of experience don’t mean much.”  They’re right, when you don’t present your experience in a way that matters to potential employers.  Make your experience count by sifting through it and highlighting the quantifiable achievements as a demonstration of what you can do for your next employer.

Look over your resume. Does it shout “Years of doing tasks” or does it shout “Achiever with proven ability to solve problems and create value”?

Coming up, we will talk about the opposite problem: What to do when a job posting requires a minimum number of years of experience in certain skills.

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11 thoughts on “Why Years of Experience Don’t Matter

  1. There’s an old saying that illustrates your point: ‘Does he have 20 years experience or one year 20 times?’

  2. To often the 55 year old who loses their job expects to replace their salary. Why? Because they have 25 years experience. Yet upon analysis they have 5 years of experience 5 times and 40% of their salary is annual COL increases. Without a strong record of progressive achievements their job hunt is doomed and they will be lucky to get a job at 60% or less of their previous job. This is a very difficult concept to register with the older job hunter.

  3. WRONG. Neither example is more impressive. Since quality matters so little these days, employers will settle for someone who has a pulse, who will except lousy pay, and who is willing to make work their #1 priority because they don’t have a family or life outside of their job. This is the only reason more experience professionals aren’t hired in this job market.

    Believe me, companies want the more experienced employee, but they’re just too darn “expensive” and, “how dare they expect health insurance and a pension?!?!”

    Younger generations are only attractive to employers because they can easily exploit you. Soon enough though, they too will be replaced – probably by some immigrant who is willing to work for even less.

    Pathetically, it’s the greedy boomers who created this mess in the first place, and now it’s come back to bite them in the behind.

  4. Kate, I’m sorry to hear that you are having such a negative experience with the job market and what employers are looking for. Certainly employers consider salary expectations as a factor in hiring, but most would prefer to hire a mature, stable worker if the applicant has demonstrated experience and quantifiable achievements. In working with a lot of job seekers, we find experienced professionals ARE getting hired in this job market when they bring out the value they are capable of bringing to an employer.


  5. I’d have to agree largely with Kate.

    A mature applicant is usually faced with the dilemma of having to dumb-down one’s resume, achievements and true age to even get one’s foot in the door to interview for a job.

    Even then, if successful, you’ll find that the two bully sticks of denial used against you are “over qualification” and “under representing your experience” on an application; the both being veiled accusation of lying about your age.

    How many mature applicants out there have had the experience of FINALLY getting an in-person interview, only to see the obvious and overt annoyance that washes over the face of the interview panel when a person over the age of 25 walks into the room?

    Those who blithely dismiss this phenomena as personal lacking in the applicant are only fooling themselves and will get to face the same process within a decade or two when they get to run the very same gauntlet.

    Enjoy it; you helped built it and have certainly deserve the experience.

    Yes, on the rare occasion, a highly qualified, mature candidate IS hired because of their qualities, but that has become the exception rather than the norm.

    When employers begin actually return to a business model that encourages middle management to be productive in a rational business manner, rather than encourage dysfunctional, top-down, “cult-of-personality” klatches, then these off-hand dismissals of ageism and discrimination might have some validity.

    Bitter? Not really. Just a realist.

  6. As a current job seeker, I wish employers would take heed of this article. Almost every job advertisement strictly lists that you must have at least 7(for example) years of experience in order to apply. This seems incredibly arbitrary particularly in my line of work which isn’t overly technical. Why not 6? Why not 8? Surely you would prefer to hire someone who is good at what they do regardless of number of years experience. You don’t see professional sportsmen and women get turned down because they haven’t got the prerequisite number of years experience. If you’re good, you’re good and you make the team.

  7. I’m always amazed at the ignorance of many recruiters today. As one who sat in the hiring chair for years as an HR manager, I was astute enough to discern that an applicant possessing only 4 consecutive jobs over 25 years, for example, must have accomplished something worthwhile, and been of value to their employers. If not, they wouldn’t have been able to retain their employment for so long.
    This is kind of the rub with having extensive experience and knowledge – you tend to take for granted your own value, and unfortunately, understate it when called upon to do so. When I see extensive experience, I see value, whether supported by a list grandiose accomplishments or not. There’s simply no substitute for time on the job, and I’m willing to use my interviewing skills to elicit accomplishments that translate to hidden value.
    In time, employers will rue the day that they allowed an ATS database make their hiring decisions, selecting inexperienced applicants whose real talent was in self-marketing over ones who could really do the job at hand, and do it well.

    1. We highly encourage candidates communicate clearly their competency level and tangible results of their work on their resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and during the interview conversations. This way it helps companies focus on issues that really matter, rather than using an unreliable measure, to assess candidates.

      Thanks for your comment.

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