There’s More To Your Knowledge And Experience

If I were to ask you what you’re really good at – a strength or skill that you know you do well – what would it be?

Then if I were to ask you, “And what makes you good at that?” what would you say?

I’m going to make a very educated guess here and say that, at some point in your reply, you’ll mention you use your ‘knowledge’ and/or ‘experience’ to do what you do. Well guess what?

So does everybody else

That’s why, when it comes to standing out from the crowd (what your personal brand is all about) the words ‘knowledge’ and ‘experience’ score a big, fat zero.

It’s not that your knowledge and experience don’t have value. They do. But it’s not until you dig down into how you generate that knowledge and experience, how you tap into that knowledge and experience and/or how you apply that knowledge and experience, that your individuality can shine.

Here’s what I’m talking about…

I was working one-to-one with an exec at a bank in the City who was being made redundant. He’d been with the company for decades and was facing the daunting prospect of ‘selling himself’ on the job market…along with the dozens and dozens of other execs who had already left the business with very similar CVs.

Here’s how the conversation went.

Me: So what would you say is your biggest strength?

Him: I’m great at solving problems.

Me: And what makes you so good at solving problems?

Him: I use my knowledge and experience to find a solution.

Me: Everyone uses they knowledge and experience, every day, just to do their jobs. What is it you actually do?

Him: I’ve been here 30 years and there’s not a single problem happening today that hasn’t happened, in some shape or form, in the past. I quickly remember what we did then and apply that solution to the current problem. It may not be the exact solution, but I use it as the starting point and work from there.

Me: So what you’re actually saying is it’s not the knowledge and experience itself that’s your strength. It’s your excellent memory to hold all that knowledge and experience, the speed you can access what’s in there, plus your ability to adapt what you know to different situations.

Him: Huh…I guess it is.

Me: Which is going to be a lot better answer in an interview than the same thing everyone else is saying.

Next time you hear yourself saying you’re good at what you do because of your knowledge and/or your experience, take a second to ask yourself ‘What do I actually do?’ It’ll make for a much more interesting answer that ensures your personal brand stands out from the crowd.

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8 responses to “There’s More To Your Knowledge And Experience”

  1. Nicola Ralston says:

    When my firm is undertaking searches for investment managers, and we ask them to summarise their key distinguishing features, we advise them not to reference their experience, expertise or resources; these are the factors that got their firm into the competition, but not the reason they will be selected over other experienced and competent firms.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      Ooooh, I like that! Your experience gets you into the competition but it doesn’t win you first place. I’ll be using that in future Nicola. Thank you!

  2. Tony O says:

    I have a similar view to those already expressed. It’s not a case of how much someone knows or length of experience that counts, it is what they do with it. Unless someone can show how they have used it to deliver superior performance then it is wasted. They also have to couple it up with influencing skills if they are to be listened to. Few things worse than seeing someone who is factually correct but unable to get the message across in a way that their audience is receptive to.

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      There are plenty of people out there who literally think the number of years they have done something automatically means they are good at it. As you express rightly Tony, there’s no guaranteed link. It’s about quality, not quantity.

  3. Gary King says:

    Love this Jennifer. It’s the ability to recall the knowledge and experience and use/ adapt it to suit the need.

  4. Denis Kaye says:

    Great discussion! I agree that it is the application of knowledge and experience that makes the difference and you need to be able to provide evidence of how you do that for the benefit of your customer, your business………………….

    • Jennifer Holloway says:

      Evidence is definitely essential Denis. And it needs to show what you actually delivered ie helped x number of clients to grow their businesses by £x, not just what you did ie have been in business for x number of years.

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