Beware Of The Word "Experience"

by: Joanne Meehl

The word "experience" can hurt you during job search. I say this to candidates of all ages.

How so?

1. The word "experience" can get in the way of other, clearer words that are more specific to your successes.

2. People just don't "see" it any more. It's lost its punch, its meaning.

Saying "I have all this experience" means nothing to the listener, especially if that listener is a networking contact or an interviewer. You'll get polite nods, but little more. They'll be thinking, "So. what does she mean?" But they probably won't ask. You must be more specific from the start -- including on your resume.

So use other words that are more precise, and "sparkier", as I like to say. For example:

Before - "I have 14 years of experience in surface mount technology."

After - "Over several years, I've enjoyed solving surface mount technology project problems."

Before - "I have experience using social media."

After - "At my company, I established the use of Twitter which has led to a 140% increase in our webinar enrollment."

Before - "I have several years' experience in cost accounting."

After - "Within cost accounting practices at my current company, I've become known as someone who streamlines processes without losing accuracy."

Replacing the word "experience" is especially true for the older worker, who is apt to complain to others, "With all my experience, it's taking me a long time to land a new job". But what do you really mean by "experience"? Is it vital stuff or did you do the same thing over and over for all those years? It's painful to see people put the word "experience" out there like it's gold when it's not -- until you say HOW that impacted your organization. Do you now see -- through the examples above -- that changing "that word" to the REAL things you've done will help you break through that barrier? Give it a try.

The word "experience" by itself is just not enough today. Be more specific, and tie the successes you've had to the potential employer's job. That way, you'll be able to apply your actual experience to their problems -- in a new job there.


Want to "spark up" your wording? Joanne is a published wordsmith as well as a career choice and job search coach. Contact her here.


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