How To Gain Valuable Experience

Valuable experience is in demand. Employers want to hire it. Employees want to gain it. 

And therein lies the trap. 

If you have to have experience to get more of it, then maybe we really are spiraling to an $8.5 Trillion talent shortage. 

I often see this in Sales. Most Sales Rep Job Descriptions will say 3-5 years of sales experience required. If that’s true, how does anyone get their first sales job?

Or, how does someone become a manager without management experience?

The Answer: Adjacency. 

You Make Your Experience Valuable.

We all have different backgrounds, perspectives, and stories to tell. This is the beauty and power of diversity at work. 

It’s impossible to check all the experience boxes when climbing the ladder, but we all check some. And that’s how our story gets written. 

A former boss used to say to me “How does this help your narrative?”

In other words, how does this experience, project, or challenge help add to the story of who you are and what you’ve done? And what’d you learn from it?

Even chapters we don’t think are connected can be used to tell our story. And make it interesting – sometimes those stories are the best.  

I talked about my childhood paper route when I interviewed for my first corporate job out of college. I was 12 and delivered papers on my bike. (I got the job)

Here’s the lesson: The person that chooses to see more value in their experience realizes more value in their experience.

In other words, what you’ve learned from your experience is actually more important than the experience itself. 

That’s where the value lies. 

Don’t Discount Your Story.

Because we live it every day, our experience is commonplace to us. This makes it easy to discount. 

In most cases, we take what we do for granted. 

Take me for example. All I do at work is talk on the phone, respond to email, and send chats. Oh, and sometimes I make something in PowerPoint and Excel. 

Or I recently stepped into a strategy and innovation role because of the creativity and ingenuity I showed in my previous position. 

Both of these stories are true. 

You likely have similar perspectives on your story. Which one are you choosing to tell?

Adjacency is the key. 

Doubling back to the sales example. That salesperson with no sales experience was me. 

Early in my career, I stepped into a sales role that typically requires 3-5 years outside B2B sales experience. 

I didn’t have sales experience but I did have adjacency.  

I had 2 years in an operations role with my company. I had a reputation as a hard-worker with a positive attitude. I had shown I was coachable, could learn new skills, and was a culture fit. 

That was the story I told during the interview process.  And I got the job.

“Story moves the World.”

– Kobe Bryant

You have a valuable story to tell. You also have adjacency. When you use them in tandem, you are no longer bound to what you’ve done in the past.

It’s like having a fresh pen and a blank page.

Which chapter are you going to write next?

Published by brianhquinn

I write a weekly post to help you grow professionally, elevate your career and Become an "A" Player.