Why all your years of experience mean nothing

Have you ever heard the saying “Practice makes perfect?” Well, I have news for you – that’s not quite an accurate statement. The truth is repetition can be a dangerous thing. One of my old teachers said it best when she told me something I never heard before.

Perfect practice makes perfect.

Think about that for a minute. If you practice something with poor form over and over again the only thing you’re doing is reinforcing bad habits which translate into lackluster results. In other words, you’re conditioning yourself to fail, and you can bet money that when things get tough at work or at home, all your so-called training will kick in as second nature. Most people recognize this as true in the context of sports but the same idea applies to your career – experience alone in the sense of how long you’ve been in the workforce means absolutely nothing.

You need to have relevant AND impactful experience.

The fact that you showed up every day for the job you get paid to do isn’t going to get anyone excited to hire you. Reading through a list of all the boxes you checked and all the papers you filed over the last 15 years probably isn’t going to leave the lasting impression you want either. Hiring managers want to hear a story about high impact results, and if you can make that story about a high impact that is particularly relevant to the business problem at hand for that hiring manager, you’re golden. You want to leave the hiring manager with the feeling of “wow, I want him/her to do that for us too.”

As I like to do most of the time, I’ll share a story with you… When I first started working in consulting, I worked with another guy about 15 years my senior who was also new to the consulting world. He loved talking about how much experience he had. In fact, he was convinced the firm didn’t bring him in with the seniority he deserved, but when you started to have some detailed discussions and peeled back the layers a bit, the substance wasn’t there. As a result, neither was the credibility from clients or colleagues, exactly how you DON’T want to build your personal brand.

So I urge you next time you find yourself getting ready to talk about how many years of experience you have, ask yourself what results you’ve achieved during that and let that guide the conversation instead.

If you want to see what telling you story in an impactful way looks like on a precisely crafted resume, go here: