Qualifications, Experience and Ability

Google has this certification program for individual search marketers. If you are a ‘Qualified Individual’ you are eligible to tell others that you are Google AdWords Certified and eligible to use a little logo that says “AdWords Qualified Individual Google” on your homepage. Google says “you can also put your Individual Qualification on a resume.” Well, la dee da!

What must one do to enter this elite brotherhood of Qualified Individuals? Google says (1) “Pass both the Fundamentals exam and one of our three advanced exams” and (2) “Agree to our program Terms and Conditions”.

That’s it. Pass two multiple-choice exams and agree to the Terms and Conditions. No experience necessary.

Well, OK. Let’s say I get my Google Qualification and ‘hang a shingle’, so to speak – I set up a website advertising my services, put my Google Qualified Individual logo on the page, along with my e-mail address and phone number, and manage to get a client or two. I then spend the next couple of years as search marketer, buying ad space on Google and doing what I think will help my clients get to the top of Google’s natural results as well.

But let’s say that I don’t do these things right. I do some stuff right, most stuff wrong, and much of the time have no clue which is which. My clients aren’t elated by my work, but they’re happy enough to stick with me.

After a couple of years, a big advertising firm contacts me and I interview for a job with them. I’ve put my Individual Qualification on my resume. Of course, I mention that I have several years Experience doing online marketing too.

So the firm asks me to review bids for an existing client of theirs. They ask me to look at how some of their webpages are set up. They ask me about new AdWords features that have arisen since I got my certification. And I do poorly on everything they ask.

You see, a few years Experience doing something wrong is not a plus. Yet if you look at resumes, they consist almost entirely of Qualifications and Experience. One of the first sections will often list educational background – the schools the applicant has attended, degrees obtained and grade point average. Another large section will be devoted to previous jobs held and pertinent experience in whatever field the job is in.

If my band needs a lead guitarist, a 12 year old shows up to audition and she absolutely blows everyone away, should we ask “Yes, but are you a Professionally Certified guitar player?” Should we ask “But tell us, how many years of Experience do have playing guitar?” Or should we simply ask “What’s your bedtime and how much money are you asking for?”

Qualifications and Experience mean nothing compared to Ability. So throw the resume away and just start shredding the axe.

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