Dear Matt: I was just turned down for a position because of a lack of experience. I have been in the same industry for nine years working part-time for the same company. The person who got the job has less experience, both with the company and in the industry, but has worked at several different companies full-time. Are employees better off sticking in one position with one company or are the expectations that workers should have experience from a number of companies to get promoted?

Matt: The days of the longer-tenured employee getting the promotion based on years of service with the company are long, long gone. But that doesn't mean people who stay with one company are at a disadvantage over another candidate who may have experience in multiple organizations - if proper steps have been taken throughout one's career.

The fact that the other person had worked for a variety of employers probably wasn't the main factor in getting hired over you. What it came down to was likely the fact that this person showed your employer that he had more skills and successes related to the position the employer was hiring for - or he simply sold himself better in the interview.

I agree with Joan Runnheim Olson, certified career and leadership coach, and owner of Hudson, Wis.-based Pathways Career Success Strategies (http://www.pathwayscareer.com/), who says it's what you've accomplished on the job that matters most.

Are you merely doing your job description or are you identifying areas of concern and coming up with solutions? Are you keeping visible? Do you volunteer to serve on special projects or committees? What are you doing to maintain your marketability? What can you do to be seen as an expert in your field? Have you learned any new programs or taken any classes? What more can you learn that will help you add value to your company?

In addition, have you ever discussed your desire to add to or change your role with your supervisor? Have you ever discussed your goals and asked to take on new projects? If you don't, they may get the perception you are simply happy doing what you do on a part-time basis. Don't get stagnant, as Runnheim points out. "It can be seen as a detriment and interpreted as being afraid of change."


Matt Krumrie is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, and has nine years of experience reporting on the employment industry. This column will answer readers' questions. E-mail questions or subject ideas to askmatt@startribune.com.