Why Industry Experience Is Overrated

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If you think you didn’t get hired at your last interview because of lack of experience, you’re wrong.

Lack of experience is a strike against you, but if that employer didn’t see potential beyond your resume you wouldn’t even have an interview in the first place.

Your resume is like a Driver’s License. It qualifies you for the job, but you have to prove your value to the company in-person.

In fact sometimes industry experience can be a bad thing. For example if you were at your previous job for 10+ years and didn’t know anything else, how adaptable and flexible can you really be moving forward?

In my current role as a Faculty Manager for an online test prep/academic tutoring company I was on the outside looking in. The tutors I manage remotely know way more about the SAT/ACT than I’ll ever care to know. So when asked if I had any experience in the education space during my interview, I responded by focusing on my strengths for the position.

Since I am managing tutors, not teaching students, I talked about leading people. As for former youth pastor I dealt with parents of teenagers (most clients are high school students). As an entrepreneur I am organized and specialize in time management (managing programs and learning the system is 50% of the job for our tutors). Knowing the technical skills of high school academia is irrelevant for me. As long as I can prove I can get the results from the tutors I add value to the company.

My situation may not suit yours, but my point is simple: know thyself.

Self-awareness is the most important trait of any leader. Know what you’re great at and also what you suck at. Most jobs ask you to multi-task, but within those responsibilities there are priorities. Nail those and now you have leverage.

Selling yourself is having confidence in your abilities and knowing who you are. Every time you decide to pivot careers you’re at the same place. You will switch careers frequently for the rest of your working life so get used to it.

An employer notifying you didn’t get the job because of lack of experience is a scapegoat. What they really meant is they don’t have the confidence that you can get the job done despite experience. If you understand that going in, you’ll focus less on what you don’t have and leverage your strengths to the fullest.

Don’t use lack of industry experience as an excuse. It’s only one if you choose it to be.

How To Be A Storyteller During Your Next Interview

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Applying for jobs sucks, but if you get to the interview process here’s a way to stand out:

Tell stories.

Since the beginning of time stories have always engaged us. During an interview, telling a story will calm your nerves while painting a memorable image in the mind of the interviewer.

In fact, if you can tell a story about a past experience accenting how you used personal strengths you’ve nailed it.

Past behavior questions tend to be the most accurate predictor of future prowess. It’s not 100%, but it’s proof you’ve done it before so you can do it again.

The easiest way to implement this strategy is planning ahead of time. Think of 3 stories that illustrate your strengths clearly and remember them. Most likely you’ll be asked a question like, “What are your strengths? or Why should we hire you?” Now it’s story time…

Interviews are perceived as intimidating, but similar to public speaking the only way to get better is through practice. You can easily simulate an interview by role playing. Anticipate the toughest questions ahead of time and you’ll be fine during the real thing.

Interviewing relies on self-awareness. Know your strengths and weaknesses and be able to communicate them clearly. For the question, “What is your biggest weakness?” always answer it in a positive way (otherwise you’ll shoot yourself in the foot). For example: “I’m impatient. I like to move at a fast pace. I care about efficiency because time is money. I like to push others to move with a sense of urgency.”

See what a did there? I took a potential weakness and flipped it into a strength.

Some interviewers play games, but most ask similar questions.

Do your research.

Practice.

And most of all…tell stories.

It makes you memorable.