Experience or Degree… What Are Employers Really Looking For?

That’s a big question! What really matters when you are looking for a job? Your many degrees or your experiences? What do employers consider as the most important? It goes without saying that every employer is different… some of them prioritize education, while others believe that experience and skills are, without a doubt, what makes a person useful to the business. In fact, it is better to prioritize both!


Indeed, a post-secondary degree does not necessarily make a person smarter and more competent just as experience alone cannot make a person the best in his field. I speak knowingly when I say that some people graduate from post-secondary education and do not deserve it! What’s more disappointing and frustrating than seeing someone get the same piece of paper as you, when you’ve probably put in 10 times more effort than him or her? That said, that’s how it works and we cannot do much about it. However, the truth becomes apparent in the job market. Employers are far from being foolish… they know very well how to target the ‘rare pearls’.


On the other hand, it is true that some people acquire degrees without necessarily deserving them. However, for others, obtaining a post-secondary diploma can provide valuable skills and knowledge that will enable them to enjoy a well-deserved career. In particular, post-secondary studies help develop certain transversal skills, such as critical thinking and judgment. Of course, judgment is also acquired with years and experience, but the university can also help develop a critical mind and thus facilitate decision-making. Other transversal skills are easily acquired in a post-secondary education environment, such as leadership; communication skills, both written and spoken; time management and organization; and teamwork. These skills, in addition to the “essential” skills of a job, are increasingly rewarded by employers! So that’s why education should not be taken lightly…


Nevertheless, it is important not to trivialize the experience! Many people are excellent in their field and it is thanks to their many years of experience. Most employers seek a balance between experience and education. Increasingly, it can be seen that Grade 12 or high school equivalency is required. However, the experience remains one of the best ways to learn your trade. You can learn the basics at school and develop your knowledge on the subject, but in reality, it’s a whole different story. What is written in the books are concepts and theories that must be taken with a grain of salt… Sometimes, what is written in a book does not apply to the reality, and you have to tap into your various work experiences to make the decision best suited to the situation.


To conclude, it goes without saying that experience is an indispensable asset. That being said, we must not denigrate education. These two elements combined have the power to bring a person very far on the road to success.