Jun 30, 2017

Employers value your experience more than your degree

Back when university education was a privilege rather than a prerequisite for entering the workforce, degrees were held in high regard, distinguishing a job candidate from the rest of his or her peers. That’s no longer the case these days. Tertiary education has never been more accessible. From distance learning to online degrees, to foreign universities setting up to local campuses all across Asia, degrees have become the norm rather than the exception.

Various studies show that while most employers still expect their employees to be graduates, they don’t however attach much significance to the awarding institution or the class of degree. How does this affect the recruitment process?

Work Experience: The most popular qualification

According to The Independent, new research finds 58% of employers rating work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented”, with 48% favouring “personality” as the second most popular criterion. The USA’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ estimates that only 33% of US jobs require a college degree lends further support to this trend, pointing to a shift in focus towards field experience and pertinent skills and training.

Only 1 in 4 employers interested in quality of degree

In a study of 500 employers conducted by the University of Hertfordshire, almost half of polled respondents were found to favour “relevant work experience, a good work ethic and relevant degree subject” when hiring graduates. Only one in four employers was interested in the class of degree, with even a smaller percentage concerned about a university’s reputation.

According to the study, employers rated the top 10 attributes as follows when considering job applicants:

1. Relevant work experience

2. Work ethic/attitude

3. Degree subject studied

4. Team spirit

5. Maturity

6. Degree classification

7. Easygoing, cheerful attitude

8. Reputation of university attended

9. Ambition and career goals

10. Leadership skills

Skills in demand: Technical, practical, transferable

Kris Stadelman, director of the NOVA Workforce Investment Board in Silicon Valley, asserts that “Employers are interested in what skills you bring and how these skills can be used in their business.” TIME cites a study by NOVA on tech employers which found “mastery of current technologies” as the most critical factor in their recruitment decisions.

This emphasis on skills, according to the TIME article author, extends beyond tech to other sectors including business services, financial services, healthcare and hospitality. The author concludes, “Employers seek people with skills that apply to the particular job—and who have the ability to solve problems and work in a team.” This indicates that not just tech skills are in demand, but practical and transferable skills as well—essentially any skills relevant to the job in question.

Resourcefulness: Unique skills not covered in academia

Perhaps a key factor that makes Google so successful is their unconventional approach towards all aspects of their operations, including recruitment. In an interview with the New York Times, Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, Laszlo Bock, commented that “G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless… We found that they don’t predict anything.”

Instead, Bock credits resourcefulness as a far more valuable skill to have in his observation, “When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.”

Times are changing, and along with them, the perceived value of one’s skills and attributes as an employee. If you’re worried about how your academic qualifications compare with your peers, don’t be. Your work experience and attitude matter a lot more.

Source : Jobstreet

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