Ajarn Mark Caldwell Blog

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Defining Experience

I'm sure I've written this before, but while I'm on the topic of interviewing, it bears repeating...

Do NOT confuse 1 year of experience repeated 5 times with 5 years of experience.

In the one, you have just been doing the same thing over and over, hopefully getting better at it, but not really growing.  In the other, you are learning new things and growing, hopefully refining what you knew before based on what you are learning now, but at the very least, expanding the total area of what you know.

When a job ad says something like "5+ years experience" it is the latter, not the former, that they are seeking.

Legacy Comments

re: Defining Experience
Technology changes much faster than 5 year. So even if you do the same thing repeatedly, you will very likely use new technolgy to do the same thing on the 5th time.

re: Defining Experience
Nice idea, but I don't buy it. Maybe it's because just a month ago I hired a Visual Basic 6.0 developer, which as I'm sure you know, has been out much longer than 5 years. And for those who think I'm crazy, it is because we have a mission-critical system that was developed in that technology just as .NET was coming out and the company was not willing to bet its future on a then not proven technology platform. And we are just this year putting together the plans for the master replacement system. And I'm sure many of my readers can tell me about systems that are still in regular, valuable use that are in technologies much older than that. Believe it or not, people still use COBOL! <shudder>

But hey, we can talk about SQL here. When did Microsoft SQL Server come out? How much have the commands CREATE TABLE, SELECT, and UPDATE changed since then? If you have spent 5 years building small database applications, you probably have not ventured much into the new syntax released in SQL 2005. Heck, I know people who have been using SQL for years and don't know how to use the extended FROM clause in an UPDATE statement. They never needed it in their work, so they never learned how to do it.