Posted on Jan 27, 2016
Cpl Mario DiPasquale
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Let’s pretend you’re a hiring manager. Does the following statement impress you? “Practical contact with and observation of facts or events.” No? Me either… that’s the first definition of experience from a Google search.

This word is held to a very high standard. It’s a requirement in more job postings than a bachelor’s degree. But, what is experience and why is it the bane of young professionals looking for a chance?

I have never understood why experience is held in such high regards, often a deciding factor when it comes to who is even interviewed. The Marine Corps has fourteen leadership traits: Justice, Judgment, Dependability, Initiative, Decisiveness, Tact, Integrity, Enthusiasm, Bearing, Unselfishness, Courage, Knowledge, Loyalty, and Endurance. These words are almost never listed in the job’s Minimum Requirements. Why is that? If I was in a position to hire, I would select an individual with these traits because, I would want leaders, not managers. Leaders don’t need a title to lead. Leaders promote things like, innovation, communication, and teamwork. I would want all my employees to be leaders.

Experience is not a trait. Your ability to gain experience sometimes comes down to being in the right place at the right time. Experience is gained through time. I could be the worst (still good, just not a top performer) at my job and, as long as I hold that position, I’m still getting the experience that is often listed under job requirements and deemed the deciding factor in many situations.

In my efforts to be the best I can be, and to take the next steps in my career, I was asked to take Gallup’s Strength Finder 2.0 assessment. First, let me assure you experience isn’t one of the possible strengths. My top five strengths (in order) are, Competitive, Strategic, Futuristic, Maximizer, and Deliberate. To me, these represent the types of qualities (strengths) I would look for in a future employee.

I don’t think hiring managers realize that losing out on a new position because of experience is probably the most depressing reason to a prospective employee. In my opinion, that is saying “We don’t believe in you.”

Employers don’t want to take chances anymore. The corporate world has created a false emphasis on experience and is giving the impression “the company doesn’t have time to train”, “training isn’t in the budget”, and/or “it is really important the individual selected can hit the ground running.”

They want someone else to deal with training. Everyone is looking for the “plug-n-play” employee. Unfortunately, I think this is because many leadership positions are filled by managers – not leaders. Harvard Business Review has a great, short article on the “Three Differences Between Managers and Leaders.”

Don’t get me wrong, I understand experience has its place. In no way am I saying any and all positions should be willing to accept the inexperienced. However, I believe there should be more emphasis placed on candidates past successes and ambition. I don’t believe experience should ever be the deciding factor in the hiring process, unless all other avenues have been discussed. With experience comes comfort, and with comfort, innovation and creativity often take a back seat. With technology constantly advancing, employees with leadership traits are the keys to staying competitive.

When experience is held in such high regards over so many beneficial traits… what kind of workforce are we creating?
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Responses: 8
SN Greg Wright
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Cpl Mario DiPasquale

"Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't."
--Pete Seeger

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
---Douglas Adams
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Cpl Mario DiPasquale
Cpl Mario DiPasquale
4 y
Great quotes!
"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad." - Miles Kington

But, one of my favorites is, "A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying." - B.F. Skinner

I will never let rejection get in my way of achieving something great.
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SSgt Jamie Ritter LeBlanc
SSgt Jamie Ritter LeBlanc
4 y
Well put!
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SSgt Radio Frequency (Rf) Transmission Systems Supervisor
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It seems to me like all those qualities you listed should be what you are telling the hiring manager. They understand the weaknesses in the hiring system too. https://youtu.be/gQVEvkYuvWk
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Cpl Mario DiPasquale
Cpl Mario DiPasquale
4 y
Thank you for that video SSgt. I wish more hiring managers shared her mindset. I definitely consider myself a scraper. I have never brought up my struggles during interviews. I didn't want to come off a complainer or attempting to make them feel sorry for me... I'm wondering if I should reconsider my introduction pitch.
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CPT Mark Gonzalez
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You can be qualified all day, but being qualified is equivalent to raw talent or potential, which also means risk and untested. Experience is the end product and the results you can show.
A young professional who is qualified should be able to get an entry level position. However, if they expect more it may be a long road as their skills are raw at best. Plus what makes this hard is everyone sells themselves as hard-working, motivated and intelligent to the point that these subjective comments mean nothing and you need tangible results.
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CPT Mark Gonzalez
CPT Mark Gonzalez
4 y
Neither of us are Lebron, but let's know our weaknesses. It sounds like you are saying yours is experience.
Identify your industry and try to find a position that you can be passionate about and grow. Don't fixate on a title, but don't sell yourself short. Luckily as a civilian you are not bound to a company and can explore opportunity elsewhere if you feel your performance is not being reasonably recognized. It is normal for highly functioning young people to feel that they have not met their potential, but all the developmental jobs are important.
Do you have no job offers or just no offers where you feel fully utilized?
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Cpl Mario DiPasquale
Cpl Mario DiPasquale
4 y
I have had interviews for seven positions over the past year. Everything from a Service Desk Analyst to Operations Manager. I believe I was able to earn interviews for the positions like the Operations Manager and a few other because I have spent countless hours perfecting my resume.

Unfortunately, my lack of direct experience in those specific positions has resulted in my inability to land one of those positions.

So, the reason I ask what experience means to you, is the hope I can gain some insight into how I may be able to approach this more effectively.
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CPT Mark Gonzalez
CPT Mark Gonzalez
4 y
Lean heavy on any civilian contributers. I believe that taking an entry level position in an industry you are interested in is smart. And within a few years you'll have had your opportunity to demonstrate your potential. You have to pay your bills somehow and if it is an industry you are interested in it isn't a waste of your time. That is my thoughts, but it may not be good advice so lean on the civilian contributers.
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Cpl Mario DiPasquale
Cpl Mario DiPasquale
4 y
Thanks for all the great advice sir!
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