What Do Employers Look For: Experience Or A Degree?

According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Research Center of college graduates, 86% believe that their education was a valuable investment. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that college graduates had an income $19,000 greater than those with just high school educations. But in today’s job market, does a college degree carry more weight than skills or work experience?
There are many successful people who don’t have college degrees, most notably Bill Gates. As the CEO of Microsoft, he led the company in many record breaking years, including grossing more than $70 billion dollars in 2011. So don’t be discouraged, a degree doesn’t guarantee a top salary at any company.
Binghamton University in New York, recently released a report about transferable skills. Simply put, these are the skills that you have accumulated and improved upon that apply to numerous jobs and tasks. They could include efficiency in communication, teamwork, and organization, all of which can be gained through work experience. But how do you get your foot in the door without a degree?
Convincing an employer to hire you can be tricky regardless of your level of education. But, focusing on the transferrable skills in your resume can help your chances.  To get ahead of the competition you have to focus on your strengths. If you don’t have a degree, list the skills you’ve gained from your previous employers that are applicable to the job you are looking for. Be specific about your skill level and give quantifying examples.
A college degree may seem to make finding a job easier, but there are ways to find a career without a college degree and there are great jobs that can be earned with hard work and diligence, whether it’s through scholarly pursuits or just good ole’ fashioned dedication. Are there skills that you have found that made you more valuable to your current or previous employer, let us know what you think in our poll.



  1. Julie -AFA

    While a college degree definitely helps and may be required for some jobs (such as attorneys), most of the time skills and experience matter more. Once you build up experience, that is what hiring managers will focus on. However, a degree helps you when you’re starting out to show you do have knowledge in an area and while you’re working on a degree, you can complete internships to help give you experience as well.

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