10 Years of the Same Experience

I once worked at firm during a time when it was hemorrhaging money. Management decided to make cuts. My bosses at the time were senior employees of the company. They had many years of experience under their belts, plenty of high profile projects, and had made the firm quite a bit of money. But when the cuts came, few were spared.

The common sentiment amongst them was what will I do now? In all their years of experience, they had never considered that they would be forced to find a job. It also became increasingly clear that they were only qualified for jobs that fit their narrow profession and seniority window - of which there were few if any available. Soon after, cuts came for the junior employees. They were unhappy and angry. But shortly after, they found new jobs, changed professions, and moved on with their lives.

It was an extremely unpleasant time. But it taught me an important lesson - that years of experience can be a vanity metric if there’s no exposure to shocks.

The senior employees had the same shock as the junior employees. You would think that those with their “10 years of experience” would have an edge compared to the junior ones who had essentially just graduated college. But they didn’t. Their 10 years of experience were effectively the same experience repeated over and over. When the shock came, they were just as “experienced” as a young green college graduate.