Recruitment poll: What matters most – qualifications or experience?

Beef Central, 10/04/2012

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What do you think matters more when recruiting staff – qualifications or practical experience?
This is a question that recruiters are frequently asked in one form or another by employers and candidates. It is a question for which there is no clear answer.

In the corporate world, the general answer is that qualifications are far more important today than they were in the past, with more roles than ever requiring qualifications as a starting point.

There are more and more specialist courses available at TAFE colleges (workplace safety, fork lift driver’s licenses and so on) and there is an increasing expectation from employers that candidates have that piece of paper.

All other things being equal between two candidates, the one with the qualifications is more likely to be chosen for the position.

At the end of the day, most employers are pragmatic – most jobs have no more than three main criteria in terms of what a candidate needs in order to fill a job specification.

The order of these criteria is of no particular importance except that generally, by convention, the education level is a starting point.

These are:

  • Education – to what level (depth of knowledge) and scope/specialisation.
  • Experience/Knowledge and skill – again to what level (depth of knowledge) and scope/specialisation.
  • Communications, relationship and teamwork ability/skills plus work culture fit.

A trend in recent years is for employers to elevate the education and experience/skills requirements for many roles; largely due to the rising levels of technology used in many industries and the knowledge base thus required.

Qualifications can be obtained by enrolling in a program. However the experience behind the qualifications speaks volumes.

While employers place an emphasis on qualifications, the practical experience behind it is a proven track record of one’s abilities.

Some might say no amount of qualifications can replace practical experience and certain innate abilities that cannot be taught in a classroom.

AWX recruitment managing director, Tom Strachan is a firm believer in this.

“So far I have yet to see a degree that majored in street smarts, charismatic leadership, tenacity, respect and courage under fire,” he says.

“I don’t think formal training can replace the old concept of hard work to do what it takes.”

In conclusion, perhaps it is true to say that the question asked is redundant – the fact is that more and more jobs nowadays require a formal qualification, just as most jobs require significant levels of experience and on the job skills. One must accompany the other.


Take the AWX Agribusiness Poll here :

What do you think matters more – qualifications or experience? 

Outcomes discussed in the next recruitment article.


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