Which is more important, your skills or your experiences? If you were a hiring manager and you had two finalist candidates from which to choose, one had 10 years’ experience but needed some skills training to bring them up to standard. The other candidate had 5 years’ experience but was fully competent in the skills you needed. Which candidate would you choose?
There are three major forces at work here:
- During the pandemic years, training and development of the workforce was severely reduced. With the shift to work-at-home employees, a large segment of the workforce could not upgrade their skill sets. This produced a gap in skills unless the employee sought on-line programs or certifications.
- At the same time, technology advancements continued to accelerate, from high tech to retail to manufacturing. The innovation in computer applications has affected most all segments of the workforce.
- The quality and level of required skills can easily be validated by employers through on-line testing. It’s easy to sort out those who are behind the level of skill needed for an open job from those who are qualified. Advanced certifications can also be confirmed. On the other hand, it’s very difficult to assess the quality of a candidate’s experiences. Is the 10-year experience really only one year repeated 10 times, or was it a progression of higher-level experiences over 10 years? What were the standards or expectation of prior employers?
As you can easily see, skills are much easier to evaluate than the experiences of a candidate. However, if I were counseling a client, I would advise the following strategy:
- Assess your technical skills against the marketplace. Are your skills up to date? Do you have advanced certifications? Are you competitive? If your match is less than 80%, you are behind the curve.
- Focus on the first five to eight skills and experiences listed on a position description. These are the most important ones listed by the hiring manager. Identify your skills and experiences from past jobs. Do they match or exceed the skills listed? If yes, you will be a very competitive candidate.
- Create a script for both your resume and interview that describes your skills and experiences which produced measurable results. Example: The open job position description states, “Develop new sales and customers for a geographic market expansion”. If your past experiences are comparable, then your script would read, “Developed new products, sales and customers resulting in a new market that increased revenue by $200,000 within the first 6 months. Revenues expanded to $2 million over the next 2 years”.
The hiring manager is interested in three things: Matching your skills that are needed to do the job. Past experiences that match the tasks to be accomplished. Results that increase the hiring manager’s chance of success and reduces the risk of falling short.
Whether experience or skill, it’s your results that count the most.
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