)

Why Work Experience Matters More than Your Degree: A Hiring Manager’s Perspective

Last Updated: 9 months ago by BrodNeil

As a hiring manager, I’ve seen countless resumes come across my desk, and one thing that always stands out to me is work experience. Sure, a degree from a reputable university is impressive, but it’s not always a guarantee of success in the workplace. In fact, I’ve hired people with no degree at all who have gone on to become some of our most valuable team members. Why? Because work experience matters more than a degree.

It’s the real-world application of skills and knowledge that sets candidates apart. In this article, I’ll be sharing my perspective on why work experience should be prioritized over a degree when it comes to hiring and how job seekers can showcase their experience to stand out in a competitive job market. So if you’re a recent graduate or someone considering a career change, read on to learn why your work experience may be more valuable than your degree.

5 companies you can work for before running your own business

The list below ranks US companies with former employees going on to start their own businesses:

  1.  Bain & Company
  2. Oliver Wyman
  3. McKinsey & Company
  4. Strategy&
  5. Universal Music Group

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/29/the-companies-where-workers-are-most-likely-to-become-founders.html

The value of work experience

Work experience is valuable because it demonstrates a candidate’s ability to apply their skills and knowledge in a real-world setting. It also shows that they have the practical skills necessary to succeed on the job. When I’m reviewing resumes, I always look for relevant work experience first. If a candidate has experience in the field or a related field, it shows that they have a good understanding of what the job entails and are more likely to be able to hit the ground running.

Additionally, work experience gives candidates an opportunity to develop soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. These are skills that are difficult to teach in a classroom setting, and they are highly valued by employers. When a candidate has work experience, it shows that they have honed these skills over time and are more likely to be able to work effectively in a team environment.

Overall, work experience is a valuable asset for job seekers because it demonstrates their ability to apply their skills in a practical setting and develop important soft skills that are highly valued by employers.

The drawbacks of relying solely on a degree

While a degree is certainly an accomplishment, it’s not always a guarantee of success in the workplace. In fact, there are some drawbacks to relying solely on a degree when it comes to getting a job.

Firstly, degrees can be expensive. The cost of tuition, textbooks, and other fees can add up quickly, leaving students with significant debt when they graduate. This debt can be a significant burden, especially if the job market is tight and they are unable to find work in their field right away.

Secondly, degrees are not always relevant to the job market. Some fields are changing rapidly, and what was relevant when a student started their degree may no longer be relevant when they graduate. This can leave them with outdated skills and knowledge that employers do not demand.

Finally, degrees don’t always teach practical skills. While they provide a good foundation of knowledge, they don’t always teach the practical skills that are necessary to succeed in the workplace. This means that graduates may struggle to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting, particularly if they have no work experience.

Relying solely on a degree can have drawbacks, particularly if the degree is expensive, not relevant to the job market, or doesn’t teach practical skills.

The importance of relevant work experience

When it comes to work experience, relevance is key. Employers are looking for candidates who have experience in the field or a related field, as this shows that they have a good understanding of the job requirements and are more likely to be able to succeed in the role.

For example, if a job requires experience in project management, a candidate who has worked on a project team or managed a project in a related field will be more attractive than a candidate who has no relevant experience. This is because the candidate with relevant experience will have a better understanding of what the job entails and will be able to apply their skills more effectively.

Relevant work experience also shows that a candidate is committed to their field and has a passion for their work. When a candidate has worked in the field for a significant period, it shows that they are interested in the work and committed to developing their skills and knowledge.

Relevant work experience is important because it shows that a candidate has a good understanding of the job requirements, is committed to their field, and is able to apply their skills effectively.

Transferable skills gained through work experience

While relevant work experience is important, it’s also important to recognize that skills gained in one field can be transferred to another field. This is particularly true of soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.

For example, a candidate who has worked in customer service may have developed excellent communication skills that can be applied in a variety of roles, including sales, marketing, or project management. Similarly, a candidate who has worked in a leadership role may have developed excellent team management skills that can be applied in a variety of roles.

When reviewing resumes, I always look for transferable skills that can be applied in other roles or industries. This shows that the candidate has a broad range of skills and is adaptable, which is highly valued by employers.

Transferable skills gained through work experience are valuable because they show that a candidate has a broad range of skills and is adaptable to different roles and industries.

The changing job market and the rise of skills-based hiring

The job market is changing rapidly, and employers are increasingly looking for candidates with specific skills rather than just a degree or relevant work experience. This is known as skills-based hiring, and it’s becoming more common as employers look for ways to fill skills gaps in their organizations.

Skills-based hiring is a shift away from traditional hiring practices, which prioritize degrees and relevant work experience. Instead, employers are looking for candidates who have specific skills that are in demand in their industry. This means that candidates who can demonstrate that they have these skills are more likely to be hired, regardless of their degree or work experience.

For job seekers, this means that it’s important to identify the skills that are in demand in their industry and work to develop those skills. This may mean taking courses, attending workshops, or even volunteering in order to gain experience in a particular area.

The rise of skills-based hiring is changing the job market and making it more important for job seekers to focus on developing specific skills that are in demand in their industry.

How to gain work experience while studying

For students who are still in school, gaining work experience can be challenging. However, there are ways to gain valuable experience while still studying.

One option is to take on an internship or co-op position. These positions provide students with the opportunity to gain practical experience in their field while still in school. They also provide an opportunity to develop important soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.

Another option is to volunteer in the community. Many nonprofit organizations rely on volunteers to help with their work, and this can be a great way for students to gain experience while giving back to the community. Volunteering also provides an opportunity to develop soft skills and to make connections in the community.

Finally, students can consider starting their own business or freelancing. This provides an opportunity to gain experience in a particular area while also developing important skills such as entrepreneurship, marketing, and project management.

There are many ways for students to gain valuable work experience while still studying, including internships, volunteering, and starting their own business or freelancing.

Ways to highlight your work experience on your resume

When it comes to showcasing your work experience on your resume, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, it’s important to highlight relevant work experience that demonstrates your ability to apply your skills in a practical setting. This may mean highlighting specific projects or achievements that demonstrate your skills and knowledge.

Secondly, it’s important to highlight transferable skills that you have gained through your work experience. This may mean highlighting your communication, teamwork, or problem-solving skills, and providing specific examples of how you have applied these skills in a work setting.

Finally, it’s important to use action verbs and quantify your achievements wherever possible. For example, instead of saying that you “worked on a project,” you could say that you “managed a project that resulted in a 10% increase in sales.”

Highlighting your work experience on your resume is important because it demonstrates your ability to apply your skills in a practical setting and showcases your transferable skills.

Tips for interviewing with a focus on work experience

When it comes to interviewing with a focus on work experience, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, it’s important to come prepared with specific examples of how you have applied your skills in a work setting. This may mean preparing stories or anecdotes that demonstrate your skills and knowledge.

Secondly, it’s important to focus on your transferable skills and how they can be applied to the role you are interviewing for. This may mean highlighting your communication, teamwork, or problem-solving skills, and providing specific examples of how you have used these skills in a work setting.

Finally, it’s important to be confident in your abilities and to demonstrate your passion for your work. Employers are looking for candidates who are committed to their field and are excited about their work.

Interviewing with a focus on work experience is important because it demonstrates your ability to apply your skills in a practical setting and showcases your transferable skills.

Conclusion

In conclusion, work experience matters more than a degree when it comes to hiring. Work experience demonstrates a candidate’s ability to apply their skills in a practical setting, develop important soft skills, and showcase their passion for their work. While a degree is certainly an accomplishment, it’s not always a guarantee of success in the workplace. Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with specific skills, and the rise of skills-based hiring is changing the job market. For job seekers, it’s important to focus on gaining relevant work experience, developing transferable skills, and highlighting their experience on their resumes and in interviews. By doing so, they can stand out in a competitive job market and demonstrate their value to potential employers.

Tara Mae Dela Cruz is a passionate writer and storyteller hailing from the Philippines. With a love for words and a vivid imagination, she weaves compelling tales that transport readers into captivating worlds. Her writing style is characterized by its lyrical prose and deep emotional resonance, drawing inspiration from her own experiences as well as the diverse cultures she encounters. Tara's work often explores themes of identity, family dynamics, and the power of human connection. When she's not writing, you can find Tara exploring new hiking trails or curled up with a good book, always seeking to broaden her horizons and find inspiration in the world around her.