Experience vs. Ability: What matters when looking for a job?

It’s a seemingly unwinnable situation that most of us have encountered; employers looking for staff prefer someone with experience, yet experience is impossible to get unless an employer gives us a chance.

This is a particularly frustrating pattern when we know we have the ability to do a job, but aren’t given the opportunity to demonstrate it.

So how do you overcome this paradox?

The truth is, most employers value ability over experience. A common mantra among those looking for a good team is ‘you can teach a person how to do a job, but you can’t teach them how to be a good worker’.

The problem for employers is that ability is very difficult to demonstrate on a resume and in a job interview. Like personality, another important attribute in many positions, understanding a person’s ability often relies on seeing them work or hearing them talk.

The risk, of course, is that they’ll invest in training someone to do the job only to have them quit the moment another more attractive job becomes available.

If you’re passionate about a particular job but lack the required experience, ask yourself why this is a position you want. If it reflects a particular passion or aligns with your longer-term career goals, be sure to clarify this on your CV.

A potential employer is far more likely to give you the opportunity to seriously apply for a position for which you lack the experience if they believe you are genuinely enthusiastic about it.

Make it easy for them to see how keen you are.

Record a video profile alongside your online resume to introduce yourself and your goals. Reassure an employer that you’re genuinely enthusiastic about the role and the career path and they’ll be far more likely to give you a chance.

Finally, and most importantly, don’t become disheartened. Everyone that has come before has faced the same obstacles, and yet an employer has given them that vital opportunity. Your turn might be next.

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