When read a job ad, 99% of the time I see a listing that says “must have X years in ABC.” This is often done to weed out the field, but it really is showing that the people that create these ads don’t really understand the dynamics of career progression. Not all experience is created equal.
Now I know I’m going to offend a number of people with this comment. Not all business experience is the same. Take for example marketing. A person with 5 years in a corporate marketing role has about the same hands on experience as a person in a start up with 2 years experience. I know that is not a popular opinion but hear me out.
Large corporations often have you in a rotation or locked into a role. You are in channel marketing or branding or product marketing or marketing communications and that is what you do for that time. So you spend 5 years doing product marketing. That’s really all you know, but marketing is a sum of its parts, you are not truly able to be a marketing leader unless you have done all the pieces of marketing. In a start up, you do them all because you have to. So you get a better understanding (assuming you did it correctly) how it all comes together, how channel and branding work together and product and communications. So in a short amount of time you have a broader background and often with more hands on experience.
If you have been in both, you understand what I’m talking about, if you have only been in corporate, you really have no idea what you are missing. I think we should all start out in small companies in our careers, it’s the best way to really learn business because you have to do everything and often and get good at it. In corporations, a lot of people can coast or stay in one area for years. I know people who have been in the same job for 10 years, just plugging away and they have little idea what distribution is doing or sales or finance. In a start up, you can’t afford not to know.
So really, we should not judge experience as the same, as a company, it would be good for you to rediscover the art of the conversation and talk to candidates again and learn who they are. The ROI is there.