Much Ado About Experience

The value of an experience is in the lessons learned, not necessarily on how much time was spent doing it.

Much Ado About Experience
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

"I've been in training for a long time and I want to be guided by someone who is more experienced than me," said one of my prospects a few years back. This person was holding a senior position in Learning & Development and was very familiar with training delivery and content development. Because I conduct the HRD Corp Train-The-Trainer Certification Course, I basically train my peers and fellow trainers who are sometimes older than me. 

I am definitely not the most senior Lead Trainer for TTT nor am I the most experienced ones in the market. So it is quite common to get people who are sceptical when they hear that I have only been training for 15 years.

Of course, the prospect choose a different provider - no hard feelings there, but what got me upset was, after completing the course, the person made an open remark on social media suggesting that the Lead Trainer did not add much value and the 5 days were filled with "things that I already knew". So all that emphasis on wanting a more "experienced" trainer in the end still didn't satisfy the craving for "new knowledge" - one that could have possibly come from a "younger" perspective.

Although we all logically understand that it is not fair to judge a person solely on his or her profile, there is that tendency still for a majority of people out there to associate "a large number" on the experience column as being "more convincing" in certain roles - especially for trainers. 

It takes a fair amount of effort to change the mindset of the general public to look beyond the numbers but also try to see what those years consist of. A person could possibly gain a lot of exposure by doing many things in a short span of time compared to one that keeps on doing the same thing over and over again for several years in a row. The value of an experience is in the lessons learned, not necessarily in how much time was spent doing it. 

So whether you are looking to hire permanent staff or engage an external consultant, I highly encourage you to try to see beyond the "years of experience" and maybe even take a chance on those who could bring a fresh view on "traditional ways" of doing things.