One of the longest-standing debates when it comes to hiring is the question of whether education or experience is more important when determining if you should hire someone. To help you target which is more appropriate for your workplace, we’ll take a look at three common situations, so you can decide which approach is best for your organization.
Most people tend to be either street smart (with real-world experience) or book smart (from academia). In some rare cases you’ll find well-rounded individuals who are both. When you’re hiring, you have to zero in on the type of candidate you’re seeking for each particular position.
If someone is book smart, it means that he or she has succeeded in academia, but this doesn’t necessarily translate to success when faced with real on-the-job decisions. It comes down to the specific requirements of the job. A scientific researcher needs extensive academic training; a sales person doesn’t need as much. Keeping the specific requirements of the job at hand foremost in your mind will help guide your decision making.
When someone graduates with an advanced degree in a particular field, this knowledge forms a foundation that cannot be easily acquired, even through years of experience. On the other hand, if someone is hired to perform a specific job with four years of experience but no degree, even though he has work experience, he may be constantly in a learning phase since not every possible situation will have come up. Often, when someone obtains a higher degree, the four to seven years of education translates into ten plus years of information encountered in real-world working.
Employers love to see real-world results. When a candidate can show a potential employer what she has actually accomplished, you can bet that employer will pay attention. Real-world success carries more value with employers because it provides proof that the candidate has the skills to adapt to situations that arise, and not just knowledge gained from study. When a job entails dealing with real people in a variety of real situations, actual work success is way more valuable then educational success.
Before you hire your next candidate, take a look at their education as well as their past successes and work experience. Depending on the position you are hiring for, you’ll know whether to go for the candidate with more experience or the one with more impressive education credentials.