4 answers

Does "experience" always mean "professional experience"?

Asked Edgewater, Colorado

I see a lot of job/internship listings that require the applicant to have experiences in fields that suggest he may not necessarily need professional experience (a past position). For example, some social media internships require the candidate to have "social media experience: 1+ years". Would this be strictly professional experience, or should I apply if I've been fairly active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc..., for over a year? Should I email in to get a clarification, or should I apply anyway and know the answer if I don't hear back? #social-media #job-applications #qualifying-prospects

4 answers

Kelsey’s Answer


I always assume experience is anything you can show proof of or give an example of. With social media it's tricky because if you want to show off your Twitter or Instagram as an example of your experience you need to make sure it is work appropriate. Do you moderate any public groups on Facebook? How many Instagram or Twitter followers do you have? These are specific examples of ways to present your experience professionally. Remember, social media for a group or company is different than your personal social media because they are expected to represent a brand. If you can show that you ran a page on Facebook, or have an interesting Twitter or blog that people you don't know in real life want to read that is good experience.

Kate’s Answer

Updated Boston, Massachusetts

Hi Jerry,

This is a great question. While "experience" in a job requirement generally does refer to professional experience, in a case like your social media example, you should definitely apply. Particularly for an internship, it's likely that they do not actually require professional experience with social media, and are simply looking for the basic skills that you would need to succeed in the internship. (Even for entry level jobs, this may still be the case, although professional experience is of course always very helpful.) For example, I hire interns who work on grants and research funders, and I ask them if they have fundraising experience, but it's not required at all.

In your cover letter and interviews, I would suggest you think about what aspect of your social media experience may be most relevant to a professional setting, for example if you've ever promoted an event via social media, or even if you've engaged with companies online and would like to work on the other end of this. You can highlight those as examples, but definitely don't be afraid to talk about your personal experience with social media as well. Even if you don't think that your experience is exactly professional in nature, you can explain that you are very familiar with these particular social media platforms and would love to use this knowledge to promote the mission of the company to which you're applying.

In general, I would not recommend emailing to ask people to clarify their job requirements. If you think that you could do much or most of the job, you should apply, and explain in your cover letter how your experiences would translate to the particular role. Most people conducting a search for an intern or employee will probably not have time to field questions from applicants, and it isn't really common to ask these types of questions at this early stage in the process. It's important to remember that it's completely possible to get a job without having all of the requirements, especially in areas like years of experience. Just explain why you want the job and how your skills would help you succeed, and you'll have a strong application. Good luck!


Jeff’s Answer

Updated Round Rock, Texas

Hi Jerry.

Very good question! In general, if a job posting listed required experience it is assumed to be professional. However, if the job is for an internship or entry level job, you should assume that experience refers to any exposure. Hiring managers do not expect entry level applicants to have any real industry experience. They are looking for exposure to social media and the ability to use it.

I would recommend that if an internship position sounds interesting and you think you can do the job, apply. The absolute worst that can happen is they say no.

I definitely agree with Kate. I would not bother a hiring manager with questions.

Best of luck!


Tamika’s Answer

Updated New Jersey, New Jersey

Experience should include any "transferable skills" that you obtain. Where you obtain them is important because it gives perspective on what you've done, who you worked with and how well you work with others.