What’s Better: Life Experience or Job Experience?

Is life experience or job experience more important? Here are some things to consider when looking for a job and why both are important.

Sometimes job hunting is a “chicken or the egg” thing. Many people really want to get jobs, especially right out of college, but applications always seem to want job experience. Yet, it’s kind of hard to get job experience if no one will offer you a job to begin with #amiright? The good news is that many employers are starting to value life experience as well as job experience.

If you do something unique like traveling or starting a business on your own before entering the corporate work force, sometimes that can be more impressive on a resume because it shows you have grit and that you’re a true ‘self starter.’ Still, some employers are really focused on actual job experience so let’s weigh the pros and cons of both so you’re prepared for your next interview season.

The Benefits of Job Experience


Job experience gives you specific, measurable bullet points to add to your resume. It sounds boring, yes, but many employers want to see job experience, not life experience, when it comes to hiring you. They want to be able to call your previous bosses to ask how well you worked in the office and how you got along with other colleagues. Although it might not seem fair, having job experience makes you seem more “legitimate” to an employer than life experience does.

It’s not really all about your employer though. It’s about you too and your comfort level. Having signifiant experience on the job not only gives your future employers the comfort of knowing you’ve worked for a company before, but it also gives you comfort. If all you’ve had is life experience and no job experience, the rigid structure of a work day and navigating office politics might come with a bit of an adjustment.

Essentially, job experience gets you ready for more job experiences. Although some people try to get away from 9-5 jobs as much as possible, others really enjoy working for their companies and earning that steady paycheck. Job experience is one way to get you there.

Is life experience or job experience more important? Here are some things to consider when looking for a job and why both are important.

The Benefits of Life Experience


It’s hard to measure the benefits of life experience, but it’s definitely important to your development as a human being. For example, if you’ve traveled solo around the world, you’ve likely developed some real world skills such as being adaptable, confident and able to interact with others who might be different from you.

Life experience might also include having children, living in a multi-generational family home or overcoming some serious obstacle. All of these unique experiences that we all have help to develop skills that are at times intangible and hard to measure.

A wise business owner who wants to hire someone new will often see the benefit of life experience and might weigh it as more valuable than work experience. They might see someone who has overcome struggles and feel that they are more qualified for a stressful, high powered job than someone with an elite graduate school degree.

Ultimately, it really depends on the type of job you want and who is potentially hiring you. It’s safe to say, though, that you can’t go wrong with a healthy dose of life experience. Otherwise, what’s life for anyway?

In my opinion, both job experience and life experience are important to have. A little bit of life experience helps you better relate to others. A bit of job experience helps you better navigate your way through a new workplace and office culture.

Of course, if you’re having trouble getting that initial job experience, remember to do some internships while you can, preferably while you’re still in college to show that you have experience working in your field. The Huffington Post even had a post that showed specific engineering students who completed internships were more likely to get jobs after college.

If you want to switch fields, do what you can to spend as much time in your new field as possible. And, if it’s life experience you’re seeking, be sure to take that vacation time you earned. Life experience, travel and trying new things make you a more interesting and engaging person and can help you have more to share when you’re up for your next job interview.


Which do you think is more important: life experience or job experience? If you’ve traveled, how have your travels helped you be a better co-worker or employee? Do you feel like your degree will land you the kind of job you want? If not, why not?

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Catherine Alford is a professional public speaker and freelance writer who covers family, finance, and freedom. Check out her blog, BudgetBlonde, and her bio at


  • It is a bit of the chicken or the egg type game. I think having an internship under your belt will provide both life and job experience. Having transferable skills, good communications skills (people skills) really will make you most attractive to potential employers. Don’t underplay leadership roles in sports or clubs too. The can be highlighted in place of work experience.

  • My time studying abroad has always come up in job interviews in a very positive light. One trip I did through a school and one trip I did on my own (making my own arrangements and finding a language school by myself). Work experience is good but I think life experience helps you stand out.

  • Kathy says:

    I think it depends on what the job is. If you are going into a highly skilled job like in engineering or medicine you must have the education to enter the field and later the experience in the field to move up. However, if you are teaching a vocational education class in plumbing or culinary arts, much of what you teach the students you will have learned in you life AND work experiences.

  • One isn’t more important than the other, but it really does depend upon which field of work you are looking at. I think employers are beginning to recognize that, though a college degree is important, life experience and the ability to learn on the job can be equally as valuable.

  • In my line of work, job experience is preferred. Our employer cares about who can get results and be a leader in an industry that’s constantly changing.

  • Iram Khan says:

    I think, In my era of work, job experience is preferred. Our employer cares about who can get results and be a good leader in an industry. Anyway thanks for sharing this. This article is very helpful.

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