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Skills VS Degrees- What Do Employers Value Most?

  • Amruta Bhaskar
  • Oct 29, 2020
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Since early childhood, we hear from our family members that it’s important to have a good education. It’s the key to a successful life. It helps to find a good well-paid job. A person without a college degree is like a person without a hand – it’s a disability. So, we’re encouraged to study as long as we can. And most young people do it.

Given that college costs are on the rise and that in 2019 the average student loan debt was $35,830 per person, many people are starting to question the wisdom of pursuing a bachelor’s degree. Does it make sense to spend all that time and money getting your degree when you could be working and gaining work experience?

While there is something to be said for that argument, what matters when it comes to getting a job is what employers think.

How do they feel about education versus work experience on a resume? Do employers value real-world experience and on-the-job training more than a degree? Or, does that degree mean the difference between getting the job and not?

One of the prime examples of job fields that benefit from skill-based hiring is tech and media fields. Such jobs require a necessary element of creativity that cannot be acquired from college lectures and text-book theory alone. These fields rely heavily on constant improvement and development, and so, skill-based hiring will focus more on the new and creative elements a worker brings to the table and encourages applicants to push themselves to meet these demands and create source material. Furthermore, skill-based hiring means that employees will introduce new and unorthodox ideas to their teams and environment unlike those learned and acquired through conventional learning. Examples of this can be seen in people such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, who are not distinguished for being ex-Harvard students, but rather, for their innovative participation in the fields of tech and media.

Studies show that there are over 50 million workers in the USA alone that can work in high-paying jobs but don’t get the opportunity to do so due to their lack of college degrees. Skill-based hiring allows such workers the opportunity to rise in the career ladder and participate in jobs previously reserved for college graduates, by assessing the worker’s ability to do a job effectively, rather than their knowledge about it. Furthermore, studies show that, when found in an employment crisis, companies prioritize firing workers with no college degrees, regardless of their experiences. Skill-based hiring removes the stigma that lacking a college degree means someone knows less or is incapable, which allows for more acceptance of skill-based workers and their ideas, and also secures their job positions.

There's no question that higher education still factors into career success, as 82% of Glassdoor respondents said their college diplomas have helped them in the workplace. But job seekers need to realize that there's more to landing a job and advancing their careers than holding a degree.

"For any employee looking to earn a bigger salary or move up the corporate ladder, they should do their research on how their the industry is evolving, including identifying specific skill sets that are in demand," Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert,  "Going back to school may be one way to learn and improve, but there are also nontraditional ways, such as certificate programs, boot camps, webinars, online non-degreed courses, conferences and more."

Big changes are coming to the workforce in the next two years, as it’s expected that 42% of the core skills needed to perform existing jobs will change. This means we’re likely looking at a future where your skills are more important than the degrees you hold. Although that being said, it does not mean that college degrees don’t hold any value.

With this shift, more people will look to online learning to upskill and to help gain the practical, hands-on experience employers will be looking for.

Having a college degree is no longer a guarantee of finding a job or having a higher salary. What’s more important for employers is whether a candidate possesses the right skills and has the relevant experience. Thus, those who consider going to college should think about the advantages and disadvantages of getting a degree.

Those who are already studying should apply for internships and try to get some experience along with their degree. Those who have got a degree and can’t find a job – don’t lose faith in yourselves! Along with your education, you received a lot of skills. It might be great writing skills or leadership skills. Think about what you can do and add it to your resume. It’ll help you get hired.

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