Degree vs Experience

Are you sacrificing the best candidates by demanding a degree? We're getting straight to the debate on this.

Graduates only please

Employing someone with a degree is like employing with a safety net attached. They might not have any experience but you can guarantee that they will have studied the relevant subject at length and in detail whilst at university, therefore preparing them for a higher level of understanding when they eventually start working in their industry.

They will probably have written a final thesis on their specialist subject; so you know they will have the knowledge to be able to form ideas for your business. Where in-depth knowledge is required, and a deeper level of understanding is needed, employing a candidate with a degree might suit your business needs better.

When advertising a job requesting that a degree be held by the candidate, it’s important to allow some flexibility within the advert. Putting ‘degree preferred’ rather than ‘degree required’ will provide a better selection of  candidates.  One of which, might just be the ticket for you!

We like life experience

Sometimes a degree in the appropriate field is essential. Medical professionals, solicitors, teachers - these jobs all require a degree and the candidate only needs to be as good as their passion for that industry.

Candidates without a degree have simply gone out into the working world and started early - because they couldn’t wait. While graduate marketing professionals or graduate fashion execs were busy for 3-4 years gaining knowledge and writing essays; candidates who went straight to work have already developed a PPC strategy and are running their own retail empire!

Let's take a look at some of the most successful people in the world who do not have a degree. Sir Richard Branson left school at sixteen, retail mogul Philip Green dropped out of high school, Ingvar Kamprad (Founder of IKEA), Rob Kalin flunked high school (Founder of Etsy), even Abraham Lincoln, who only had one year of formal schooling, became the President of the United States!

Ask the candidate within the job application process what tools they are using to keep abreast of changes within the industry and to continue their learning.  This will help you to identify if they’re focused on their development and passionate about their future with you.

The Verdict

Seeking only candidates who hold a degree within the relevant subject will put your mind at ease that they know something about what they will be doing in their day-to-day role. However, how to apply that knowledge in the real world will become a learning process that you will be paying them to explore. 

However, one of the main benefits of not having a degree is the ability for the candidate to learn on the job and practice their all-important decision making skills, which should enable them to learn from their wins and losses.

So, do you think it is essential for candidates to have a degree these days?

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