It used to be that companies placed more premium on an applicant’s educational background more than skills or work experience. That is why students were so keen on getting accepted to the best universities around thinking that a diploma with the university seal will automatically land them a good job in the future. However, is that still the case nowadays?
According to Glassdoor’s Q2 2014 Employment Confidence Survey, 7 out 10 employees value skills training more than degrees. Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, further states that employees now believe that employers put more value on applicants having the latest skills relevant to the job.
Some global companies do put more importance now on relevant experience over educational attainment. Laszlo Bock, Vice President for People Operations at Google, said in an interview on the New York Times that a survey they have conducted among employees revealed that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless”. Further, he also said that over time there has been an increase in the proportion of people in Google without a college education and that they have since stopped requiring transcripts, G.P.A.’s and test scores from applicants.
More and more companies are doing the same thing. However, when you’re faced with two candidates, one a new college graduate with no experience and the other a seasoned worker, who both interview well, who do you choose?
Here are some factors to consider:
Industry or Field
There are industries such as construction and sales that value experience more than education. However, there are careers in fields such as in engineering or in the sciences that put more premium in the right college education. As an employer, consider what will bring more value to your business. For instance, an experienced salesperson is more likely to bring in more money to your company compared to a new graduate.
Type of Degree
Where did the applicant get his degree? In a lot of cases, a degree from a prestigious university would open more doors for an applicant. However, also consider the circumstances around getting that degree. Is the college degree relevant to the job to be done? The reality is there are many workers out there whose college degrees have nothing to do with the job they end up getting. Also, how was the degree earned? Was it earned by studying full time or was it earned while also working on the side?
Relevant Work Experience
Figure out what kind of experience is required for your employee to have. An applicant might have over 10 years of work experience under his belt but if it’s earned from a totally different industry or position, then this will have no bearing. Make sure that the applicant you choose has relevant work experience that will be valuable to the job and to the company.
Company Culture or Policy
In a company full of employees with MBAs, it would not make sense to hire someone new who doesn’t have the same level of accomplishment. Not only will he not fit in, he may also not get the same respect from his peers. Company culture and policy also depends on the industry. For example, in healthcare, education is necessary in order to receive certain certifications.
In the battle between experience vs education, there is no hard and fast rule. There have been successful people who achieved so much even as college dropouts. However, there are also situations when a specific educational attainment is a must. The key is for employers to find the perfect balance that is right for the company.
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