Work Experience

How to Beat Out Other Job Candidates with More Work Experience than You

Employers know that determining the level of any job candidate’s work experience is difficult. The main common measurement is time; usually the number of years. Employers compare candidates’ experience by how many years of work job seekers list on their resumes. Frequently employers give more weight to resumes with more experience. While you should never make up or add knowledge or skills you do not have there are ways you can combat candidates with more work experience than you.

First if you have been on your present job less than 2 years, total all jobs with similar experience. You should also do this if you have numerous similar jobs for short periods of time. Add the times at each job for a total sum and write your statement in your “Summary of Skills” section similar to:

• Four years of accounting experience

Second you can use the power of vocabulary to build up your work history and become a more valuable candidate. Is 8 years of experience better than 4 years? More is often favorable but not always. Employers know there are many variables to consider.

Experience is not the same between candidates because:

• The different jobs the candidates held could be considerable dissimilar.
• The candidates’ different employers might have had contrasting requirements that made the levels of skill needed far apart.
• One candidate might have been continually learning while the other was just getting by.
• A job could have included or excluded certain needed skills based on procedures and the resources and environment of the employer.

Core Work Experience

Core experience is an exact, focused, or more closely related familiarity

rather than general experience. For instance, when an investment firm advertises for an IT (Information Technology) Manager, they receive resumes from two qualified candidates. Candidate John has 10 years experience as an IT Manager while candidate Jeff has only 3 years. At first glance, John would seem to be far more knowledgeable and a logical choice. But John’s 10 years of IT management is in the health industry while Jeff’s 3 years worth is at another investment firm.

A third contender, Tom, has only 18 months working in IT but states he is a “wizard” with the very software program the investment firm is using. In this case, Tom’s time measurement of work is inferior to the other candidates yet his core experience is superior. Tom might very well have an edge that makes him the most desirable candidate.

Tom did two things very right. Tom had done some investigative work and was focusing on investment firms that used the same software he knew. He also took advantage of vocabulary by using the word “wizard.” There was no certification or degree in “wizardry” for Tom’s experience. Yet the word conjures up someone who can do something in circles around anyone else. The definition includes: “amazing skills.”

There are no hard and fast rules about how vocabulary must be used for work history. Words can be used in descriptions to optimize your work history. A candidate described as “artful” or “polished” sounds more qualified than someone who is “capable” or “proficient.” Be careful not to step over the line, for instance by calling yourself an “authority” if you have only worked as a “trainee.”

Your goal is to explain and sell yourself so well that you can beat out other candidates that have more experience than you. You need to do this on your resume, in your cover letter, and in job interviews. You can optimize your work history with the right words.

Work Experience Word List Scale

The following is a word scale for measuring work experience for resume writing and job hunting vocabulary. This has been loosely based on word definitions and general connotations associated with work experience.

Download a printable pdf version here.

Little or No Work Experience

amateur newbie rookie
apprentice novice student
beginner practiced trainee
familiar with recruit

Acceptable or Average Work Experience

able experienced proficient
adept handy qualified
apt know how trained in
capable know the ropes up to snuff
effective knowledgeable up to speed
effectual learned well informed
efficient practiced

Advanced Work  Experience

accomplished dexterous savvy
all around done it all sharp
artful expert skilled
authority gifted skillful
backwards and forwards guru street smart
brilliant know the ins and outs street wise
consummate master talented
conversant old hand top gun
crack polished versant
crack shot professional well versed
crackerjack proven whiz
deft right stuff wizard

While these words can enhance your descriptions, and some are much better than others, you need to provide supporting statements with accomplishments that have measurable results on your resume.

Also see how to write your resume experience.

If you spot errors or mistakes in the Resume Dictionary
please Contact Us and tell us where so we can make corrections.