My experience with experience… and talent

Experience is one of these words in business that need very specific description to be understood. Just like quality, everyone wants it, everyone offers it, but what does it really mean?
Experience is very valuable, and nobody would argue about that. One of the most common misunderstandings about experience is to confuse it “number of years of experience”. Although one might legitimately think that the quality of experience is proportional to the number of years, this still needs to be proven. For having met people claiming more than 20 years of experience in their field, what they were actually showing was 20 times of only one year of experience, as they had been doing the same over and over again in the same position in the same company in a very routinely manner. Actually they were little adaptable and often acted as resistance agents to the change needed to improve the company performance.
Other people show an impressive list of many different experiences in very diverse fields, and yet this would not prove that they master any of these fields, either.
Too often, when recruiting, we tend to focus more on the quantitative side of experience than on the qualitative side (yes here is the “quality” word). A common misconception is to think that experience and talent are some of the same. They are not.
When recruiting people for my teams, I always have looked at their personality, and mostly their area of talent. This is what I have always looked for in a resume, and not so much for diplomas or the succession of jobs. This has always worked quite well, as each and every one of these teams has delivered superior performance.
The funny thing about the recruiting process is that job postings almost never list personality traits or talents. Instead, they focus essentially on education and experience (which in this case is actually job history).
Experience is valuable to an employer only if the potential employee knows how to share it and transfer it to his new colleagues and to his new employer, and this why personality is at least as valuable as experience.
Another misconception about experience is that people who have been in the business longer have more experience. As my personal experience has showed me, this is as untrue as youth being a guarantee for energy and dynamism. In fact, this is where the talent factor plays a paramount role: talented people, besides being more talented than their peers, also have the ability to learn much faster in their area of talent, and thus can catch up very quickly on any apparent shortage of experience.

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

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