Why Experience Is Not Necessarily Expertise. Should Organizations Look for Experience or Expertise?

I have read the requirements for some advertised positions and most require experience of over 5 years. Whereas experience is important I could not avoid thinking about whether experience and expertise are the same.

Experience is measured by the number of years you have been doing something. For example, if you have been a manager for 5 years, it means you have an experience of 5 years in management. It is however possible that in those 5 years you have been a mediocre manager achieving nothing. Being in a position for a long time does not necessarily mean the person has been doing it right or does it?

It is possible for another person to have 1-year experience in management but achieved more than one who has been there for 5 years. I think it depends on whether one is doing the right thing in the position.

Being in a position for many years does not necessarily mean you are competent in what you do even though that is what is expected. Just as being old doesn’t necessarily make you wise for as they say fools get old too and so is  experiences vs expertise. There are many people who have worked for many years but are unable to learn anything new about what they do. Their experience lacks expertise.

It is possible to acquire knowledge and skills over a number of years but not effectively apply them in the workplace. However, expertise can be gained through experience.

Experience is however good because it helps you to overcome specific situations in the organization. It also brings out your character and conviction. This does not however make you an expert. You become an expert if you can apply what you know and the skills you have. That is why I keep saying Applied Knowledge is Power.

Just because you have never done something before does not mean you cannot do it. You must make your experience count and useful to the organization.  Experience that is unfocused and undirected is of no use. Learning and skill development is important if you have to gain expertise.

I am of the opinion if an organization can get an employee with both experience and expertise, they will thrive.

What do you look for as an employer and why?

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Dr. Mary Mugo
Strategy, Governance, and Management Consultant.



2 thoughts on “Why Experience Is Not Necessarily Expertise. Should Organizations Look for Experience or Expertise?”

  1. Great leadership insights there. You can have 35 yrs experience which is actually 1yr experience 35 times- Kabii Thuo via WhatsApp

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