Except when it comes to heart surgery, building a rocket or flying a plane – and a few more high risk highly technical jobs – relevant experience is irrelevant.
In many interviews today when I ask the candidates, “What would you love to do” they automatically blurt out their functional title. So I repeat the question and then I get a puzzled look from them as if I was from an another planet. At this point I have pretty much decided that I would not be hiring this person. Why so?
Our education system (specifically in India) is designed to give us degrees which can get us job. People spend 15-16 years of their life not realizing that it is actually all about learning. They forget that along the way becoming a Production engineer, they have actually picked up a lot of skills.
I would rather do away with titles completely and just start seeing people as a set of widely varied skills that can be put to use in any field or in any position where these basic skills can be used.
Still confused? Let me narrate another story. Recently I decided to open a restaurant. When I shared the idea with friends, family, and my network, many asked me “Do you have experience in restaurant business”? No one asked me, ” What is the uniqueness of your idea”. It sounded like the only people who would be successful were the ones who already had done that.
This did not bother me one bit. I had inner confidence based on many practical factors. First and foremost was my belief in the idea that I had. I felt that there was a void for quality, healthy, food on the go at economical prices. I felt I could solve whatever problems there were to deliver on that vision and make it possible.
Why was I so confident with the relevant experience? Many factors!
Lowest Common Denominator Skills
Regardless of the field you have been in you are developing the basic skills of:
- analytical thinking to understand basic numbers and math
- planning and project management to execute
- interpersonal communication to connect
- systems thinking to create new possibilities
- instinct to understand what appeals to who
- sensory development – ability to discern good taste, smell etc
- ability to prioritize – to focus on the important
When you look at these skills and figure out what you have, you can work in any field and do anything where you can leverage this skills. So it does not matter if you were an engineer, you can be a teacher. If you were a lawyer you can become a cook!
Go out there, forget your past experience and follow your heart. You can do it – you have relevant experience of however old you are.