Two guys applying for the same job. They both have a great interview, but one has 10 years experience and no college degree, and the other is fresh graduate with no work experience. Who gets the job? The answer is still not fixed. Can experience make up for the lack of a degree, or does a degree provides something that experience cannot? Is one more valuable than the other?
There are some careers where experience trumps education and vice versa. The real answer to whether experience or education matters more is that it depends—on the employer and the line of work. Someone with experience but no formal degree could be favored for certain jobs, but they may struggle to advance professionally. On the other hand, a college grad with the best education may be completely unaware about how to deal with real-world work situations with no prior industry experience. Not all experience or education is created equal.
Why employers prefer college degrees? Maybe they find that as a proven ability to analyze problems, conduct research and produce solutions or to learn complex, difficult subject matter. They may take a degree as a proof of motivation, drive, intelligence and better interpersonal skills. It’s difficult to argue that these characteristics are consistent with all who have earned a degree.
In the case of experience based choice making the assumption could be that candidates with relevant work experience have the practical skills. They have an awareness of the importance of customer service standards. They are more likely to have an ability to show initiative at work. When you show that you are willing to go the extra mile really speaks volumes at the interview stage- nothing could beat that.
As an employer, one should ponder some basic concepts to help you make a sound decision. But we need to take the time to properly identify and develop the required behaviors, abilities, knowledge and skills of the position. It is need to understand whether or not these required competencies can only be obtained through the process of earning a degree or if they can be acquired through experiences before completing the job description.
So what to do if you lack education or experience? For fresh graduates, internship offers a great opportunity, and the same goes with volunteering. There are several other ways too, like co-operative work placements, industrial training, apprenticeships, freelancing, and more. If your resume lacks in education, look at taking classes in the field to show the interest. And online courses are also available now-a-days. There is no clear winner in this debate. One has to strengthen both the parts.
The truth of the matter is that it’s not so much about education or experience, but education and experience. They’re not mutually exclusive, but actually go hand-in-hand in charting out a person’s career growth. With the right combination of a successful academic career and relevant experience in your field, you could be giving yourself a leg up against the competition.