Education Employment

Experience Versus Qualifications: Which is more Important?

Qualifications vs Experience which is more impoirtant
Faizan Patankar
Written by Faizan Patankar

Note: This post is a response to the following article:

Do you have a degree? No, do I need one?

I have ranted, many times, in various mediums, on the real benefits of a degree. Don’t get me wrong – there are numerous professions where the professional I’m dealing with, in my eyes, absolutely MUST have a degree. I’ve had three knee operations, for example, and I would want the surgeon to have a medical degree and not just a steady pair of hands with a vast Airfix collection to show for it. Were I to infringe the laws of the land, I’m pretty sure I would want my legal representative to have absolute familiarity with the law and to have been tested vigorously on it – all the better to improve my chances of getting off.

However, not every job requires a professional qualification, or even the proof of intelligence a degree apparently provides. I, myself, have applied for various jobs in the sales and recruitment sectors over the past 18 months and have come up against the same barrier time and again.

Do you have a degree? No, do I need one?

I’ll level with you – I wasn’t very mature when I was at university between the tender ages of 18 and 21 (I’m not overly mature now – my 31st year draws to a close) and I didn’t fully realise the impact of a few more late nights than was wise on the rest of my life.

I went to university to study Accounting and Finance (so a relatively vocational course) but ultimately dropped out. Since then I have managed pubs, bars, restaurants, kitchens and warehouse departments. I have lead teams of up to 50 people. I have managed 100s of staff over the past 10 years.

And yet what employers seem to want is someone who managed a few more early nights than I did, made it to a few more morning lectures than I did.

I will hopefully be returning to university this autumn to complete my degree in Accounting and Finance. And there is only one primary reason for this – I’m not harbouring a desire to enter the world of accountancy to fill in people’s tax returns (although if that’s where my life takes me, then so be it). I’m doing it to make myself more employable. I’m not convinced that employers request their applicants have degrees to discriminate against the over 25s.

A degree does suggest a certain amount of intelligence but, and I have friends who are testament to this, it far from guarantees a shred of common sense.

What amuses me further is that a drama graduate, starting a job in PR with a publishing house will only have to be trained on a job just like anyone else. And it wouldn’t surprise me if the person doing the training didn’t have a degree themselves.

New employers are at a disadvantage when it comes to applicants – they need some way to sort the wheat from the chaff and so some choose qualifications. A degree? No? Into the bin. A degree? Yes? Into the “maybe” pile.

For people aiming higher within an organisation they already work in, surely past performance and general experience should be a-more-than-sufficient benchmark for the applicants, shouldn’t it?

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About the author

Faizan Patankar

Faizan Patankar

I started Career Geek Blog in 2011 to share my experience in job-hunting. I now focus on careers industry and blogging is just a tool to share that info. Love hacking careers. During the day I focus on my hobby - Engineering.