Work Experience or Qualifications? That age old question

11/06/2014

Work Experience or Qualifications? That age old question

So what is the answer then? Well, the honest answer is both, and they are possibly the two most important things that employers take into consideration when they are looking to hire new staff. The reason they are both important is because employers want to hire people who have a good balanced CV, and the combination of both education and experience shows employers that you are a well-rounded individual.  

Let's look at the benefits of having the right work experience first. Now, this may be an obvious one to start us off but having the right work experience when applying for a job shows employers that you will have an understanding of what they will be expecting you to do. This is because relevant work experience will have given you the relevant skills needed to do the job that employers need doing. So, as you can see having work experience on your CV will make you stand out from other people when applying for a job, as it puts you a grade above the rest. You can even think about work experience as having another qualification on your CV, and the more experience you have, the higher the grade is. By acknowledging that you need work experience, and working hard to get some you also show businesses that you are a mature and hardworking individual, so don't be shy about getting out there and trying to get some experience.

TOP TIP: Do work experience which is relevant to your future career

So you now know that going out there and getting work experience is extremely important. Right? The next step is going out there and getting some, which we will admit is easier said than done. Getting a part time job is extremely difficult when you don't have any initial experience, and getting experience in an area relevant to the job you want to do is even harder. Don't think it is time to give up though, as there are plenty of ways to gain skills which will contribute to your career. Firstly think about doing a short internship, there are 1000s of opportunities out there to work in businesses in all sectors, and these can be done in your school or university holidays. An internship in the right sector is also probably the most effective way of making you stand out to employers. If you can't manage to get an internship though, don't give up. The next route is to try and get experience in a job with transferable skills. Now by this we don't mean try and get experience at Starbucks because you'll probably be making coffee when you get a full time job. What we mean is look at getting a job which will improve your core skills that all employers look for. These core skills include:

work experience

1. Soft Skills
2. Communication Skills
3. Commercial awareness
4. Team work/building
5. Define yourself as a person

These  5 skills will send a message out to employers saying 'IM SUITABLE FOR THIS JOB!'. Having work experience which has improved your core skills will also show employers that you really want the job as you have gone the extra mile to make yourself more employable.

TOP TIP: Try and do work experience in a summer break at Uni and it will save you from doing it after you complete your course

What about education though? Is it as important as people make it out to be? After all, from a young age everyone was nagged by their parents to get qualifications! Well, it all depends on what job you want to do. For some jobs you won't need a degree, but you will need a lot of work experience. Whereas for some jobs you will need degree level qualifications, but not as much work experience. So take the time to consider what you want to do when working out if you need higher level qualifications. Don't just go to university because you are sold on the lifestyle either, sure it's a lot of fun but that doesn't mean you should go only for that. Sounds like we're having a bit of a downer on University right? Well we're not, we are just saying that with the new fees in place you need to be sure it is the right thing to do. Otherwise you will just be wasting £27,000, and that's a lot of money.

It can definitely be money well spent though. The first part is getting your choice of degree right, but we'll leave that to you….afterall, we can't tell you which degree to do, just make sure you research the course thoroughly before going for it. The next part is making the most out of your university life to really make it add value to your CV and make you stand out. At some universities there are over 400 in one year doing the same degree, so what is going to make you so special if an employer is looking at CVs of people from your course? The answer to this is extra-curricular activities. Universities now try harder than ever to make sure they offer their students ways to make themselves more employable, so grab these opportunities while they are there.

What can we say to wrap this up then? Work experience of qualifications? Well, qualifications are vitally important and will set you on the right track to getting the job of your dreams, but work experience must come with that qualification or you will be stuck with everyone else who has graduated from Uni and is still unemployed. Employers are looking for a wow factor when looking at applicants to take on in there company so they can gain just as much as you. Get the right mix of experience of qualifications and experience and you will definitely give employers a reason to look twice and even three times at your CV.