Education vs. Experience—What Really Matters In An Employee?

The job interview process can answer a lot of questions with the right experts in place. If your team has professionals who can quiz potential hires on job specifics, overall theory, and bare basics, you can easily see how education and experience can result in the same general product as far as one job is concerned. Unfortunately, many businesses need to start projects from scratch or lack high-level experts for the hiring process. Here are a few details to help you weigh your options when looking through education versus experience in a job application.


Education-based hiring pros:

  • A consistent, tested level of quality.
  • Control overspecialization by selecting schools, degrees, and certifications.
  • Especially with technical colleges, according to The Quad, a school that trains for your industry will at least give someone who can learn high-level concepts without needing massive training in fundamentals.

Education-based hiring cons:

  • Higher standard pay requirements. Both prestige and degree costs drive higher salaries.
  • The candidate may lack matching skills. Some tech colleges may teach aspects of different job titles, but not like an exact-matching experienced hire.
  • College graduates with no job experience may not be acclimated to businesses demands and schedule. Your job will be responsible for training a work lifestyle.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be born with natural talent, in a community filled with relevant industry, or resources for self-study without formal education. Colleges can deliver high theory and culture to any walk of life, and technical colleges can specialize. According to Totaljobs, hiring based on education can mean that the candidate has a foundation of knowledge that is not easily acquired without a degree. You can either hire a high-concept, adaptable university graduate or recruit from a pipeline of specialists from a technical school with real results. 

For employers, education systems are a more reliable source to pull competent employees. While “competent” can be seen as setting the bar low, don’t be pulled into an argument of connotations and emotions; focus on the fact that the bottom level of trainees will be better on average than with no training at all. This doesn’t mean that education is about mediocrity. A constant challenge in the education world is raising the quality of the lowest performers while allowing the best to excel. 


Experience-based pros:

  • May already know the job, or major tasks.
  • Already understands the working world. Solid performance at a previous job suggests initiative and maturity to future employers. This is opposed to a college hire that may have never held a serious job.
  • Can bring better practices if your business or project lacks experience.

Experience-based cons:

  • Frequent previous jobs may indicate poor performance or poor business fit.
  • May lack fresh ideas that haven’t been shaped by being in the industry for too long.
  • Set salary expectations based on last job and industry knowledge. This reduces an employer’s control over salary with a great hire.

Who would be better for a job than someone who already knows the job? There’s an answer to that, but it’s not an easy answer. If you need someone to “hit the ground running” or start working on a task within a week or a month, you need someone who has performed the tasks before.

A corporate worker could be the best in the industry or a slacker who coasts in the crowd—just like college students coasting through school. At the same time, many businesses operate with high turnover rates that say nothing about the worker’s quality level. According to The Hire Talent, nine out of ten times, employers want to see real-world, hands-on work experience when hiring. Someone who knows the job already and can show their skills is more comforting. That said, an experienced person can coast through an easy job just as much as a college student can coast through easy classes.

Which One Comes Out on Top?

Should you hire an experienced professional or an educated professional? The answer depends on the unique needs of the job and the hiring pool.

If the job requires high concepts that aren’t part of standardized education, are there really enough experienced workers that match your expectations? People with the right experience may be nearing retirement or too expensive for your budget. If the job needs an immediate fix, an experienced hire is your best bet. Some talented college graduates with no experience may be able to use their training, but a real world-proven professional will have an easier time.

Ed Tech suggests that you go a step further and partner with local colleges and training programs. By speaking with education and training professionals, you can share your expectations, learn about the upcoming great minds and skilled crafters, and help build the future by connecting with the education pipeline. 

Contact a hiring professional to discuss what they’ve learned through interviewing and hiring talent from all walks of life. That way, you’ll be able to make sure that you hire the best candidates.

When hiring, you’ll want to make sure you find the best candidates for your team. Check out this other article on tips for creating a functional and effective business team!


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