Beware of the Word "Experience"

Here’s a classic that never gets old. As we shorten what we write, each word carries more weight. Don’t let this word get in your way.

The word "experience" can hurt you during job search. This is true for 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. It can mask the very value you would bring a new employer.
  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?" or “But what can he DO?” 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”. For example:

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

After - "Over several years, I've enjoyed managing surface mount technology project teams that are very successful."

Before - "I have experience using social media."

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

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

After - "I've become known as someone who streamlines cost accounting processes and mentoring others in doing the same."


Replacing the word "experience", even if it takes a few more words, is especially good 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 many or 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. 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.


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