- Communication Builds Our Community

By Fawn Germer
Contributing Writer 

It's Time to Shut Up About All Your Past Experience


Last updated 4/30/2019 at 3:31pm

Fawn Germer, Author & Motivational Speaker

Do not...

And, I mean this...

Do. NOT. Say:

"But I have so much experience..."

"I have 30 years' experience..."

"You can't learn what I know just coming out of school..."

Stop! Really, just stop.

I know you worked your whole life to be this smart and able but using your experience to justify your value is a huge mistake in a professional culture that often equates the word "experience" with the words "has been."

The one thing that used to count most for professional marketability is the one thing that many employers don't care about. They expect that, by this point in your career, you have experience. They can't stand it when you prattle on and on about how many times you've been around the block or how you didn't just fall off the turnip truck.

In fact, telling people how many years of experience you have doesn't advertise that you are better, it advertises that you are older.

It's not about experience.

Employers don't care how you got it but they want to know what you know that your ability to think, grow, react and drive will help them steer through the fog of uncertainty that always exists in the fast change-driven environment that exists today. They need your vision to give them clarity on what to do down the road.

So your track record of being insatiably curious, always learning, trying (and sometimes failing) at new and wild things is much more attractive to a company than your track record of showing up for decades, tried and true.

Few enjoy hearing you ramble on about what you faced when you dealt with a similar situation years ago; most of those stories aren't all that helpful. They want your knowledge, not your stories, and your knowledge must be 100 percent current. They want to hear your ideas for solutions based on current and future trends and challenges. If you don't know the lingo of today and tomorrow, you are not a player.

The way to demonstrate your expertise is to constantly get more. You have to read the right books, magazines and news stories. You have to be able to drop that current awareness into conversation easily and frequently to show that you are growing your expertise every day. At that point, your experience does come into play. They know you are your current and your past experience may give you a relevant perspective.

But if you can't demonstrate your immediate and future relevance, you are demonstrating your irrelevance. Falling back on how much experience you have can suggest that you cling to old achievements and old times to define your worth. Again, they don't care about what happened in the olden days (and sadly, that can mean more than five years ago) because it is very unlikely to happen again.

It's not about yesterday, it's about tomorrow. Fewer and fewer companies put a premium on "institutional memory" because that's just a memory.

Want to be valued and protected? Get more expertise. Figure out how to apply it with new trends and emerging technology. Be a force of the future, not the face of the past.

Upskill! What are you doing right now to grow your skills set? Don't rely on old skills because all of our skills are decaying with the pace of change around us.

Take a new online course every month. They are cheap, quick and will grow your knowledge quickly and simply.

Talk about what you are learning. Advertise that you are set on being the future of the company, volunteer for new challenges and be the change that is coming.

Click on books to go to Fawn's website

It's great that you've got so much experience.

But don't rely on it to define your success.

Keynote speaker Fawn Germer is the best-selling, Oprah-featured author of eight books and one of the nation's most sought-after leadership speakers. She is a four-time, Pulitzer Prize nominated journalist and has personally interviewed more than 300 famous leaders and legends for their perspective on leadership and success. She has headlined events around the world for Cisco, Coca-Cola, Xerox, Kraft, NASA, Michaels, PepsiCo, FritoLay, State Farm, GlaxoSmithKline, The Department of Defense, Novartis and many other associations and corporations. She lives in Dunedin, FL. For more information, see her website at\


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