Is It Your Experience or Education That Lands You That Job?

Nancy Anderson
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Candidates know that during a job search, highlighting their experience is crucial, but the debate between whether or not education is more important than your experience seems ongoing. The importance varies based on factors that range from your industry to a specific employer's preferences. Use the following factors to help determine whether or not you should put more emphasis on your professional experience or education when applying for your dream position.

1. Evaluate the Career Field

Many career fields put much more emphasis on experience. During your job search, evaluate your career field's trends. For example, a proven track record in sales experience may matter more to a potential employer than your business degree. However, if you are applying for a career in the education or information technology field, your educational background may make you much more employable. Find out what level of education or experience current employees possess at company's you want to work for in the future.

2. Assess Your Professional Reputation

Hiring managers may take more notice of your education if your degree is from a reputable or prestigious university. If this applies to your background, highlighting your education more than your professional experience may put your resume and cover letter at the top of the pile. However, if potential employers seek out industry experts, your prominence within the field may matter more and should be emphasized during your job search on your application materials.

3. Determine Company Policies

A firm's internal policies may dictate whether or not you should put more emphasis on education or experience. For instance, during your job search, research the company's website, mission, goals and employees. Locate any policies that detail minimum qualifications for employees that may include educational degrees or years of experience in the industry to know whether or not to promote your work experience or education more on your resume.

4. Know the Costs

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that individuals with a degree have the potential to make more money in many fields, the cost of a college education is something for you to weigh during your job search. Look into whether or not the median salary for your position is significant enough to invest funds into higher education, especially when you have a vast amount of experience. In some cases, it may benefit you financially in the long run to work toward a bachelor's or master's degree. Seek out advice from your professional network, and compare your education and experience to professionals who are successful in your industry.

Both education and experience are vital to your success in the job market. Throughout your job search, determine if your qualifications match what employers are seeking. Establish a solid professional reputation, and work toward becoming an expert in the field to increase your opportunities for employment within the industry of your choice.

Photo Courtesy of Stuart Miles at


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