Depending on personal experiences and other environmental factors, you might notice that people tend to be pretty split as far as the eternal “work experience versus education” debate goes. Some say that diplomas and degrees mean essentially nothing these days, while others believe that the work field is becoming more prestigious and demanding with its candidates, often valuing diplomas over everything else.
In reality, the truth is somewhere in the middle, like always. But another truth that we do well to remember is that, at some point, these two concepts might clash, and we might end up having to pick a winner. And when push comes to shove, what’s there to be done?
The Importance of Work Experience
The distinct advantage of experience is the fact that the candidate is likely to already know all of the tidbits and underlines of labor and work fields. They know the etiquette of a workplace, the legal aspects, and have gained enough knowledge and experience to be able to keep up with the responsibilities demanded by any job, regardless of its nature.
But there is even more to this, including several aspects of psychological nature.
Those who have amassed work experience have already gotten a taste of what life as an employee looks like. For a lot of us, the opportunity of a first job is something to beam at, mostly because the chance at a novel experience is always really attractive and exciting. The more jobs we browse through, the lower our excitement levels. In other words, it’s making a transition from a novel experience to a chore.
By the time this mentality settles in, we are already less willing to compromise. What does this mean to job seekers? It means that possible candidates are more likely only to apply for jobs that they can really dedicate themselves to. Moreover, at that point in time, candidates are also much more likely to be aware of the paths they wish to pursue. In other words, they’re probably applying for a job with the full intent of pursuing it as a career choice.
It’s also worth mentioning that a candidate that applies for a position with a baggage of experience is also a lot more likely to have a better grasp of their own skillset and their abilities. By the time they’ve cycled through a number of positions and jobs, they are probably aware of where their weaknesses and strengths lie.
So, when a candidate with work experience sits down in front of you and tells you that they possess this skill and that skill, they probably really know what they’re talking about. Because, in the end, a diploma is received at the end of a theoretical experience, whereas practice represents a whole new kind of story.
The Importance of Studies
We’ve written above what could essentially be considered a list of advantages that the experienced candidate can pose when sat next to a graduate candidate, but the line is a lot blurrier than you might think and here’s why.
Remember that this isn’t an issue narrowed down to having to choose between a graduate with work experience and one with no experience. It’s narrowed down to having to choose between a graduate and someone with work experience who doesn’t have a diploma of higher education under their belt. With this fact alone, you can know for certain that the graduate has a much better grasp of the domain they’re about to perform in.
It’s true that those with work experience and no higher education have more doors opened for them, but is this really a good thing for you and your company? You probably want someone that’s specialized in your field as opposed to someone that knows bits and pieces from the various environments they’d worked through in the past.
The biggest disadvantage of graduates that are fresh in the work field is that very few people are actually willing to give them a chance, despite the fact that they’re pretty much a haven of potential. Candidates with experience have already been hauled through different sets of regulations, demands, environments, and they might have entered a habitual stance that’s very difficult to break out of.
Graduates, on the other hand, have a baggage of knowledge and information that is just screaming to be given a chance and allowed to bloom and develop. Their start might be a little bit shaky, yes, but that’s understandable. There might even be the risk of them not ever breaking through and realizing midway that this job isn’t for them. But this is a rare occurrence. In plenty of cases, you can polish this candidate into an ideal and loyal employee.
Experience VS Studies
Now that you’ve got these two kinds of candidates seated in front of you, what will your choice be?
- Personal knowledge;
- Familiarity with labor;
- More collected, used to stressful situations, predictable, and reliable.
- Minimal or no theoretical knowledge;
- Not specialized on your field;
- More replaceable.
- Specialized in a domain;
- Great theoretical knowledge;
- Easy to form and polish;
- More excitable and dedicated.
- Not familiar with labor;
- Unpredictable and clumsy;
- Requires patience.
The conclusion, however, varies from one situation to another. In general, work experience should be the preferred option if only for the list of pros aforementioned. But if you’re having a really hard time deciding, the chances are that the position should be given to the one with education. This is because, in order to even go on par with an experienced candidate, they must double on all their qualities and offerings.
Mike Jones is a Boston University graduate, with an MS in Mass Communication. He is now a full-time writer, passionate about everything related to business, career development, and technology. He sometimes writes for LureOfMac.