It is common to see in the IT industry people trumpet how many years of experience they have for certain technology or skills. The practice is one of the cheapest form of self-advertisement. The problem is that experience doesn’t always equate to expertise.

I got burned too many times already in the past when I didn’t make the effort to understand the distinction. I had a new joiner who spouted about being Java trained and capable who then turned out to not even being able to read Java docs. Recently I have seen an internal social posting about somebody looking for Java work and stating that they have a master’s degree plus X number of years on Java but I have seen another thread wherein the same person got stumped by a syntactical error on the class definition. The person admitted to not having any work experience but still that is one of the most basic type of error that somebody learning Java will most probably encounter on their first week.

The recruiting arm of the Human Resources department has been notorious in doing buzzword matching in the past. This is the reason why I have learned my lesson. I am not going to recruit somebody until I get a chance to talk to them and get them to show me their current and potential expertise in the skill that I am looking for. The cost of a steeper learning curve and the potential risk of swallowing the sunk cost of training when letting people go is just too much to take sitting down.