Banner Default Image


Ask Lawrence: How do I describe my industry experience?

26 Sep 11:00 By Lawrence Akers

Lawrence Akers industry exerience

A couple of weeks back, I wrote an article titled ‘6 Things You Need to Change With Your CV & Folio.’ Since then, I’ve had emails daily from people who have read my blog or watched the video and considered how this could impact on them.

With that, there have been some additional questions that have come through that are certainly worth sharing with everyone, expanding upon some of those points.

Lisa sent me an email during which she mentioned, ‘Yes I have multiple years of industry experience but I'm unsure of how I sell what makes me 'uniquely good’.’

In response to that I wrote, “Let me put it to you this way; there are always going to be shared skills that each job description is going to have. When people talk about their industry experience and the length of time in the industry, we'll often do it in a way that assumes people know what that length of time actually means.  

For example, if you say that you have 7 years industry experience in commercial radio, what does that actually mean? For someone who has no experience in commercial radio, other than making you sound like you had a loyalty to commercial radio, I have no other way of comprehending what that length of time actually means or how it is relevant other than highlighting that you have 'experience'.

The length of time highlights you have experience but it doesn't highlight what that experience actually is.

How do you do that? Stories. Achievements. What did you do in that role that actually made a difference?

When I invite people in to meet with me, I'm actually not doing it to 'explore their job history'. I've already looked at their CV and made the decision that their career history is enough to warrant meeting with me. When they come in, what I want to hear are the stories about what they did during that time. What were the successes and what part did they have in it? What were the mistakes and what did they learn / accept / do in those instances? These are not right or wrong 'things' nor are they judgements but they are a way of me understanding what kind of person they are, what their strengths are, what is going to make them excited, challenged and interested.

I often talk about people being their own brand, and this really comes back to this point; if you were a brand, what are you going to promote for people to 'buy' into it? That is the 'unique' aspect that I'm referring to. Yes, it is about experience but it is more than that length of time that people rely upon because they're stuck in describing how they've made a difference. I accept that this isn't an easy task but it is the task that often makes a point of difference.”

When Lisa responded to my email, she beautifully summed it up as “Now to narrow all of my ‘experiences’ instead of ‘experience’ into a snapshot for a cover letter.”

When you’re being considered or interviewed for a job, you want to be able to convey these stories. Think back over your career and the many projects you might’ve been involved in. What did you do during those projects? What was the outcome? It doesn’t always have to be about the success stories; sometimes it can be about the things that didn’t go the way they were planned but what you learned out of it. These things highlight the skills that you’ve developed through your experiences.