What is the difference between 5 years experience and repeating the same year 5 times?

What’s the Real Difference?   

I recently had a lightbulb moment, and I want to share some thoughts that might make you re-evaluate how you interpret ‘experience’.

Are you aware of the actual differences between 5 years’ experience and repeating the same year 5 times?

It’s not just a philosophical question—it’s a hiring challenge.

Let’s have an authentic conversation about what “experience” truly means. 🤔

It’s a topic that, if I’m being honest, has caught me off guard before. So, what’s the real distinction between someone with five years of experience and someone who’s repeated the same year five times? ⏰

Let’s dive in.

Depth vs. Breadth 

The core difference is about depth and breadth, which can become a repetitive cycle.

Is it someone who’s spent half a decade in the same environment, dealing with the same challenges?

Do you have somebody working in the same organisation with the same team on the same issues for the last five years with no real progress?

Such an individual essentially has 12 months of experience spread over the last five years.

This can be classed as having depth but perhaps lacks breadth.

True Growth  

On the flip side, consider someone who’s navigated different challenges, tackled varied problems, worked with various teams, and faced an array of problems. 🚀

This person has had five years’ worth of experience over the last five years. They’ve tried stuff out, evolved, and broadened their horizons, proving that they have more than just the same year’s experience repeated.

They’ve grown, learned with every hurdle, and expanded their horizon. 🌱

One Year, Five Times: Pros and Cons 

This isn’t about good or bad. It’s about different. It’s not a black-and-white scenario.

So, Who Do You Want On Your Team? 

The individual who has repeated a year five times might be a master of a specific domain, knowing all its ins and outs. They can be the perfect fit if you need deep expertise in one area.

 Five Years of Continuous Learning 

Conversely, there’s the professional who has continuously evolved.  They have a broad, diverse range of experiences.  They are also keen to take on broader tasks and solve more problems. 📚 

Not necessarily an expert in one domain, but they have a broader perspective, ideal for tasks that require adaptability and a willingness to take on the unknown. 💡

The Hiring Perspective 

What you need to know when looking through the ‘hiring’ lens. The key is always to be aware when you’re hiring anyone.

When hiring, be it, Scrum Masters or anyone, always determine what’s more valuable for your needs: a focused expert or a versatile learner. Work out who’s the right person: one year, five times or five years once

Both have their strengths, but work out who’s the right person: one year, five times or five years once. 🎯

Are you keen to explore the many intricacies of Agile and Scrum?

Want to unlock the secrets of Agile and Scrum?

Explore my courses and arm yourself with transformative knowledge.

If you’re ever in doubt or have a burning question, drop me a message anytime—I’ll be sure to get back to you.

Let’s elevate your expertise together!

author avatar
John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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