Why experience trumps education

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Whereas a person’s academic background can be important, in the vast majority of cases, experience is a more valuable consideration for employers.

In a knowledge based organisation such as a management consultancy, business is for the most part carried out by interacting with people. In this context, an employee with experience of how to work with peers, suppliers and clients is better equipped to carry out his or her duties. No amount of certificates or diplomas can compare to practical knowledge gained on the job.

Using Experience to Drive Value

Employees who have been through difficult negotiations and solved complicated problems, have learnt invaluable lessons which can be used to drive the business forward. This understanding enables employees to recognise key elements and work towards maximising value – a skill which cannot be taught in school.

Formal training can introduce theoretical models, but these often do not translate into practical solutions. At best, they can serve as guidelines. In addition, the global nature of today’s businesses requires the ability to deal with people from different cultures. No training can guarantee the skillset necessary for this, however, experience can.

Building on Education

There are some areas where it may be wise to select a candidate based on academic background rather than years of experience. The computer industry, for example, is a sector where programmes are constantly evolving, meaning a company may benefit from an employee trained in the very latest techniques. These examples remain few and far between.

The objective of this post is not to rubbish academic credentials; education is a valuable resource and forms the framework of many successful careers. However, experience undeniably offers more value to employers, particularly in the current economic climate where there is little room for error.

If you would like to attend our upcoming Breakfast Debate – “CIPS qualification is crucial for a high performing procurement professional” – please get in touch with Petra Urhofer at Petra.Urhofer@4Cassociates.com.

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