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Experience is the first thing people look at on resumes.  How close is this experience to what they need?  What is the breadth and depth of the experience?  Based on this, people will often decide if the candidate is suitable or not.

One of my ex-colleagues said a long time ago that you can have ten year's experience or one year's experience ten times over.   It suggests being cautious because some forms of experience, while appearing reasonable, can be limited.  We typically see written in Postion Descriptions must have five, ten years or more experience in a particular role as though this is enough to qualify a person as suitable. 

This is where the questioning should start.  What is implied by ten years exposure to the type of work?  There is a need to be very granular about the work that was done during the period and the what was gained.

There is no doubt that experience is important but it is not the years but the actual work done, results obtained and the issues encountered and resolved.  

By focusing on individual performance and achievement it will be much easier to determine the relevancy of the experience for the role in question.

The right experience with the right outcome is important.  Some people have worked in areas where the amount of experience gained is worth much more than the actual years spent doing the job.  They gain skills, insights and expertise because of the challenges and issues that needed to be addressed.  This is what we have to find out.

Also, not all people learn and pick up knowledge at the same rate.  Some of the best performers have the ability to learn in many modes.  These people can pick up more and develop quicker in less time than those people who have only limited learning modes.

For this reason, one of the measures we look at is learning agility.  For example, research has shown that CEOs score very high on learning agility.

Not having high score does not mean you cannot attain the CEO role but I would expect that by learning in many modes your ability to develop the experience and expertise necessary in a position will be quicker than other people without the same learning agility.


Do not rule out people who have had less actual years experience than what you may think is necessary.  Look for the quality of the experience as a result of the intensity and scope of the work they have been exposed to during that time.