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“Not Experienced Enough” Is Job Interview Feedback That’s Completely Misunderstood

by | Nov 8, 2021 | Startups

The job interview process feels like death by a thousand paper cuts.

In 2019 I got fired from a job I loved. As it came out of nowhere, I had to quickly play the job interview game.

The feedback “not experienced enough” could have destroyed my career and sent me spiraling back into a life full of darkness and mental illness. I’m not the only one. Every day on LinkedIn I get messages from nice people.

The most common message is this: “I got rejected for lots of jobs. My life feels like it’s over.”

It really stabs me in the chest when I hear this.

You will hear “not experienced enough” a lot

Despite what you might think, this phrase is common. If Elon Musk went out into the job market tomorrow, he’d be given the same comment lots of times too despite his impressive work resume.

“Not experienced enough” is a default response.

When I’ve interviewed people for jobs in my career and needed to reject candidates, it’s an easy one-liner I’d pulled out too. Honestly it’s lazy. It’s one of those easy responses you give when, frankly, you don’t care enough about the candidate or your day is slammed with back-to-back meetings.

I feel guilty for saying it. I wish I could go back and care more for the people I was rejecting. When you get rejected for a job it’s your livelihood on the line. I’ve seen it too many times before.

There’s a limit to how many rejections we can take before we lose confidence and start to believe we’re unemployable. Most of us aren’t bulletproof Arnold Schwarzeneggeres running around town doing job interviews.

Rejections hurt our egos.

All it takes is enough attacks of our ego for it to tell us “you’re sh*t, give up you idiot.” Self-talk can be destructive. It can lead to a career downfall if you’re not careful.

Experience is based on opinion, not fact

Do employers and hiring managers really do the due diligence to check your experience? Nope. They might ring one or two referrals. These referrals are pre-programmed by you to say nice things, so it’s mostly a pointless exercise.

Occasionally you’ll get a smart cookie who will go on LinkedIn to check your profile for mutual connections. Then they’ll anonymously contact a few people who have worked with you to get the off-the-record gutter talk about you. This is rare. Most people with jobs don’t have time.

Your experience is judged in an interview. You may be representing your experience poorly and that’s why rejection happens. When I went through hell in 2019 and got told by potential employers that I wasn’t experienced enough to work in tech or didn’t know enough about banking or social media or sales, it hurt like hell.

One smart-ass woman from a tech giant even dared say, “you’re perceived as sh*t because you have a career gap. Good people don’t get fired or have employment gaps.”

I had to muster up every bit of strength I had not to rip her unfair, biased, rude, illegal, discriminatory comments to pieces and get her in serious trouble.

None of us have mind control powers though when we interview for jobs. We do our best. Sometimes that’s not enough so it comes across as a lack of experience. Really, it’s a lack of preparation or a misunderstanding of the FBI interrogation questions asked in the interview under enormous pressure (the pressure to get a job and pay bills that are mounting up).

Don’t let opinions destroy your career. Most of them are made in a hurry, without a care in the world for your well-being or feelings.

Experience is stupid. It’s based on the past.

I don’t get career experience. If someone had predicted the future of my career at 21-years-old based on my past, the only logical outcome you could predict was I’d become a crack addict.

Dark mental illness, violent friends, probably an alcoholic, always around drugs, lots of time working in nightclubs — all were signs that my life experience would produce a terrible future. That’s not what happened though.

What’s better than looking at experience is seeing someone for their potential.

Some of those people with the worst past experience are diamonds in the ruff, waiting to come out of their shells and unleash their gorgeous potential.

Experienced people often think they know it all. People with average or bad experience, but loads of potential, have drive.

Drive is a form of energy. That energy pushes through career obstacles. Someone with drive can hear no from a customer and keep going until they get a yes. Someone with experience can think that customer is a waste of time based on their prior sales history and let them go.

Drive is unstoppable. Drive is passion, thirst, hunger, and a mindset that says “get out of my way!”

You know who has loads of drive?

  • People who have been fired
  • People who have been unemployed for a long time
  • People who have been out of work due to cancer
  • People who have been mothers returning after giving birth

These are the same people cast aside by the business world as “not experienced enough” or “having gone backwards.”

What they miss is, when you go fifty steps backwards, you are able to go forward much faster than a comfortable person full of experience who thinks they know it all. Those career gaps fuel deep thinking and self-reflection. All of those job rejections form incredible amounts of humility that the experienced person can’t even contemplate.

The underdogs labeled as not experienced enough are actually high-performers waiting on the bench for an opportunity.

You’re reading an article from one of them right now. So many dudes in pinstripe suits told me I was “too entrepreneurial.” I stopped arguing with them. Here I am with no job and a successful online business. No one’s laughing now.

Here’s what you must do from now on to change your career forever

Do this: don’t give up until a person dares see your potential.

You don’t need everybody you meet in interviews and networking functions to think you’re a genius. All it takes is one.

I had one farmer see my potential early in my career. Everybody I told my failed startup stories to at work laughed. Not him. He saw something. He asked me to use those business skills to help launch a new department. So we did. The department run by the two of us and one other made more money than divisions at our employer with hundreds of employees.

All it takes is one. Don’t wait. Put yourself out there. Find that one person.

It all boils down to this

You’re only as experienced as you think you are. How you present yourself sells whether you are or aren’t experienced enough for a job.

And here’s the rub: sometimes people don’t want to see your experience because they have other ideas, like they want a mate or colleague to take the job you’re going for.

Biased people are in every single company. Incentives are misaligned. Just because you deserve a job or qualify for it, doesn’t mean you’ll get it. That reality is beautiful though. It means a lot of job interview feedback is completely useless.

Don’t let opinions drive or direct your career. Everybody has an opinion and it’s dished out not based on fact. Take feedback to improve. Don’t take it to heart.

The best job, anyway, is the one you have to work your face off to get. All of those rejections add up to an overwhelming feeling of fulfillment when you finally get the job you’ve been searching for.

Here’s how applying for new jobs works:

Not experienced enough.
Not experienced enough.
Not experienced enough.
Not experienced enough.
Not experienced enough.
Not experienced enough.
Not experienced enough.
Not experienced enough.

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