The education vs experience debate
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The education vs experience debate

Education vs. Experience: What Hiring Managers Actually Prefer
May 2022

Education vs. Experience: What Hiring Managers Actually Prefer

While no one can deny the additional benefits a degree may carry, higher education has never been a requirement for someone to be successful.  In fact, many names we recognize as global symbols of success such as Steve Jobs, Tiger Woods, or Sir Phillip Green, prove this.

But when it comes to being employable, is there proof that one is more desirable to a hiring manager than the other?

In recent years, the education vs. experience debate has started to heat up. With some individuals unable to obtain a college degree due to geographic location, income levels, or even discrimination, Wizly Experts have noted that many companies are starting to place more weight on experience over education.

Orin Davis, a HR Leader and Consultant says the proof is ultimately in the performance of the individual when put specific contexts.

“The key to this issue is recognising that both education and experience are indicators only of potential. The fact that one learned how to do something does not necessarily mean they can do it successfully, and having done something successfully in a given context does not mean they can necessarily do it in a different one," says Davis, who also has a doctorate in positive psychology.

The Value of a College Education

If you’ve recently graduated, your new degree shows companies you have acquired the skills necessary for an entry-level job in a specific field or industry. Prospective employers might see you as someone who will require little on-job training, saving the company both time and money.

Furthermore, college degrees tell prospective employers, “I’ve spent the last few years of my life dedicated to this subject!” They see this longevity as a positive indication that you are willing to work hard at this subject and grow with it.

When it comes to education and experience, it is statistically proven that individuals with a bachelor’s degree typically earn a million dollars more in their lifetime than a person with just a high school degree. These people are also more likely to have lower rates of unemployment.

With that being said, Austin Lafferty, an expert on Wizly and co-founder of his own marketing agency notes that a shift in hiring practices has started to emphasise the importance of experience over education.

“Education often serves as a proxy for experience, but experience ultimately trumps in most cases. When I don't see enough experience on a resume, a solid education at a good school indicates that this person works hard and has seen something through. That said, at the end of the day I ultimately want someone who is going to do the job well, and will focus on very concrete experience over education where possible,“ says Lafferty.

The Value of Work Experience

We can’t deny the impact a college education has on a person’s opportunities. Still, if you obtained your degree 15 or 20 years ago, it could be almost irrelevant now — at least in terms of what you have to offer an employer today.

With the world constantly changing, the best method to show employers you have the current experiences and skills necessary to succeed is through your work experience. Real-world expertise and hands-on access to the tools and situations employees need to be successful usually aren’t found in a classroom.

This is one of the strongest arguments in the education vs. experience debate.

“If you are good at teaching yourself and being diligent about your personal learning, and have more expert people that can give you feedback, gaining experience is more practical and cost effective. The only downside is that you might learn skills that are too specific and might not be as transferrable as you're hoping,” added Orin Davis.

Out of the dozen Wizly experts we spoke to, the overall consensus was that we are officially moving into a world where relevant recent experience in relation to the job at hand is prefer experience over education.

If you have a specific question on how to position and prime yourself for your next role, here are some Wizly Experts that can help with your Career Management.

  1. Jeremy Jerschina , who leads a 220-person, $5M-budget program operations team. As a member of executive team, he works  to scale the organization by aligning organisational capacity with strategy.
  2. Orin Davis, a HR leader and Phd holder who works with startups, Fortune 500 Companies and non-profits to design organisational change and workplace wellness.

3. Pushpa Latha Sreenivasan, a HR leader with 20+ years of experience who has been in  the Talent industry with Amazon, GE and Compass.

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