5 Instances Where Skills Don’t Equal Experience


Skills are important in the workforce today, but are technical skills a substitute for experience? Experience may not always mean relevant work experience, but possibly, life experience. A good example of this are military veterans–they may not always have the specific skills needed, but their life experience and training may give them an advantage in certain situations. Here are 5 other times where skills don’t equal experience:


Project Management 

I’m not sure that anyone has created the perfect curriculum to develop college students into managers yet. I personally have a degree in management, but never once did it cross my mind that a piece of paper qualified me to manage people well. Management is more an art than science and always developed with experience. You may be the most well-educated person in your workplace, but don’t be surprised when someone newer, or younger than you becomes a project manager because of their previous work experience.


75% of managers say it took four years or more to become a manager at their company. Click To Tweet


Pitching or Soothing the Client

Client communication is not a skill in itself, but skills vs. experience come into play when deciding who is best to communicate with the client. In every workplace, there are experts for specific skill sets, but they may not be the best choice for speaking directly to the client. Clients come with a set of issues that frequently require experience to be learned: difficult personalities, frustrating problems, pride-swallowing confrontation and more. It may also come down to experience in communication–a very desirable soft skill. I would advise against putting your client in a position where they feel inadequate or uneducated… unless it is completely necessary. Let your skills experts give you the stats, and let your best communicator speak to the client.


Let your skills experts give you the stats, and let your best communicator speak to the client. Click To Tweet


Making the Game Plan

This can be very difficult for skills experts to deal with. The expert in a specific field may question why they are not the person in charge of developing a strategy around their skill set. The answer is simple in theory but in practice it can cause much tension. The strategy will take into account several different aspects of a project, even if your strategy is for one specific area it may affect all others. It is possible that the best person to develop a strategy is a jack of all trades and master of none!


Getting the Promotion

I have witnessed this event happen many times, and have been on both sides of the equation.  We are always looking to hire the perfect candidates that have all the required boxes checked, but even if they do their timeline for promotion will more than likely be based on their experience rather than their skills. Many times an individual chosen for a promotion may not have the same level of skills as their fellow colleagues, but they may possess traits or skills that are more practical. Public speaking, great written communication skills, forward thinking, seeing the big picture, consistent work ethic, and tact are all skills that are normally honed with time and experience.


The Eye of the Beholder

This is a very touchy subject, but one that should be addressed. We all come from different backgrounds, have different skills, and varying levels of experience. Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you trump someone with your skills, a colleague may have a perceived higher level of trust which comes with experience. Don’t be surprised if your opinion or comments aren’t taken as seriously as someone with much more time in your career field.


“Many times as a young professional, it is easy to be on the defensive and act as if you know everything there is to know about your job or field.” – Dawn Yerger


There is no substitute for skills or experience – they are nothing without each other!

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