When employers ask for experience, they are looking for evidence of “can do what the job requires”. The employer hopes that if a person has been exposed to a similar challenge in the past, they will have picked up skills, knowledge and knowhow to do similar work in another environment. However, experience is not a direct function of time of exposure on a particular job. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, “a mad man is a person who does the same thing over and over again expecting different results each time”. There are plenty of people in employment who spend years on the job, learn nothing new and hope to get promoted next year.
Experience is the value of all the cumulative learning, exposure and competence a person brings to bear in a situation. Experience should result in a person’s growth in competence, capacity and a cumulative advancement in disposition. The ethical question then is whose job is it to “gain” experience? The most an employer can do is to provide opportunity. The onus is on the employee to acquire learning.
A person who understands what experience is, is able to describe the relevant knowhow they have acquired in life to tackle a job on hand. An aspiring waiter should be able to describe the skills gained washing dishes in his family kitchen and its impact on the food budget. An aspiring journalist should be able to describe how she came up with essays for the school magazine and the impact of her blog on its readers. Experience empowers a person with insight and knowhow to resolve employment challenges and equips them with creativity in problem solving and wisdom for living.