How Work Experience Makes You Grow as an Individual

Job Placement

“Everyone has to start somewhere.” Throughout our lives, we hear this phrase again and again, either within our minds or from encouraging peers. While it’s true every individual is born with natural strengths and abilities, most of us need to experience something to fully understand it. 

The job market is no different. Have you ever landed what you thought was your dream job, just to realize you don’t like working in that job industry after all? You might walk away feeling frustrated, or like you’ve wasted your time, but if you hadn’t taken the job, would you’ve learned it wasn’t the right fit for you? Work experience is a powerful, life-changing tool that shapes our career paths in extremely surprising ways. With the right perspective, you can capitalize on your work experience (both good and bad) to grow and advance through your career goals. 

Work Experience Teaches Patience

Wouldn’t it be great if we all found our perfect job with the best salary right away? The common culturally-implied cadence in America is that we all go to school, then we go to school again, then sometimes we go to school again, and in doing so we set ourselves up to swiftly land our well-paying dream job and live happily ever after. Anyone who’s worked in the real world knows this is simply not the case. Education is incredibly important and worth the investment, but nothing sets you up for heartache quicker than assuming you’ll land your dream job the moment you graduate. 

Your job search may take you in a thousand directions, including pathways away from your ideal dream job. Sometimes we need to take a job in another field to pay bills while we continue searching. Sometimes we decide to start our own businesses and need to continue working elsewhere while we build clientele. Sometimes we start a new job and realize it doesn’t align with our overall goals. Each of these experiences may seem like a setback initially, but they’re teaching us something incredibly valuable – patience. 

Perhaps that job in an unrelated job field leads you to a new passion. Maybe you meet a small business investor while helping customers at your side hustle. Sometimes the only thing you walk away with is more interview practice under your belt. These are all incredibly good things that can help propel your career search and make you stand out from the competition. Persist through these opportunities, stay patient, and keep your end goal in mind. Your moment will come!

Work Experience Enhances Confidence and Worth

Did you ever have a lemonade stand as a kid? Remember how exciting it was to set up your table, design your perfect sign, and earn your first quarter? As kids, we don’t consider that the lemonade we’re selling costs more per ounce than we’d ever charge our customers. We don’t mind the hours we spend developing signage, waving down customers, and keeping our product stocked. All we care about is buying that ice cream bar from the ice cream truck after dinner that evening.

Adulthood shifts our perception of time and value drastically. We begin to assign dollar values to our time, education, and work experience. We realize an ice cream bar isn’t worth 8 hours of work in the hot sun. We have bills to pay, obligations to meet, and goals to achieve. 

What’s the best way to determine your value as an employee? Find that perfect middle ground between undervaluing and overvaluing yourself. Sometimes insecurity beckons for us to ask for only what we need, nothing more. Other times outside influences or ego encourages us to ask for more than is reasonable given our time in the field. This is where work experience really comes in handy.

Start by identifying the experiences in your life that provided the skills, knowledge, and expertise your future employer needs. Perhaps you completed an internship or volunteer work. Maybe you’ve been in your industry for only a few months and consequently need to link back to non-industry-related work experiences to exemplify your worth. Try assigning financial values to each of these experiences so you can articulate an hourly dollar amount during negotiations. 

Employers are willing to pay higher salaries when they’re confident the employee can return their investment. It doesn’t matter if you doubled sales at a low-paying, entry-level job or have years of experience managing million-dollar budgets, if your resume shows you know how to maximize profits for the people you work for, your worth increases substantially. The more work experience you have making money for your employers, improving business efficiencies, or even bettering the culture and climate of the workplace, the more confident you can feel communicating your worth. 

Work Experience Reveals Priorities

Nothing teaches a harder lesson than a negative work experience. From industry burnout to ineffective leadership, the sinking feeling you get when you realize you just can’t stay in the job you have can be debilitating. Don’t let disappointment derail you! Even a negative work experience can enhance growth and keep you moving toward your career goals by revealing the priorities you may not even know you have. 

Begin by reflecting on your work history to date. Why did you move on from the positions you previously held? Were you seeking ways to advance to leadership roles? Growth opportunities are therefore pretty important to you. Did your performance drop due to disinterest or boredom? You might prioritize new learning opportunities and fast-paced environments. Maybe you left your previous job because your blood pressure was skyrocketing. Wellness, stability, and good work-life balance are probably very high on your priority list.

Every work experience you’ve had can teach you a little more about your personal priorities and needs as an individual. Connecting with these needs helps identify future goals and aligns your priorities with job possibilities. Your happiness and welfare should always be at the forefront of your mind when positioning yourself for your next job role. Don’t be afraid to visit the past and scan your work experiences to ensure your priorities are where they need to be. 
Striking the right balance between patience, confidence, and career-focused priorities is a difficult skill to master. Let Zoetic Resume and Writing Services get you closer to your career goals by partnering with me to turn your work experience into words. Together we’ll deconstruct your work experience into professional content that showcases your value, stays loyal to your priorities, and helps you feel confident in the interview seat. Ready to get growing? Connect with me here for more information.

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