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Job Search Tips, Jobseekers' Perspective

Overestimating the Value of Experience

I taught a mature jobseekers workshop earlier this week in which quite a discussion ensued  experiencedregarding a person’s work experience. Why would an employer not want to hire me? I have 24 years of experience, I know what the employer needs, and if I’m that qualified, they should be banging down my door!

It does seem inconceivable that a strong candidate could be turned away on the basis of too much experience. But jobseekers and employers look through different sets of eyes.

A jobseeker with 20 or more years of experience in a certain occupation might view himself as being qualified and valuable. An employer, viewing that jobseeker’s years of experience, will likely view him as expensive. The more years of experience, the more it’s expected you’ll have to pay for that experience.

A local health care company found a way to ease its financial burden by laying off its more senior workers and hiring candidates fresh out of college. As one displaced nurse told me, they could hire two nurses at entry-level salaries for the cost of keeping her. Thankfully, I don’t use that health care plan!

An employer looks at recruiting a new employee in terms of cost and risk. Depending on who’s crunching the numbers, sources show that the cost of recruiting a wrong employee can be anywhere between 1 and 5 times that employee’s annual salary. 

(See this infographic on the Cost of Hiring the Wrong Employee.) 

Far higher than experience on an employer’s priority list is the value a worker can bring to the organization. Instead of telling an employer how many years of experience you have, talk about your accomplishments. Speak to how you can help them achieve their corporate goals. Give examples that demonstrate how you’ve helped employers in the past– to illustrate how you can help  Of course, that takes some work and some research. But you become far more valuable if you can show a return on the investment an employer would make by hiring you.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


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