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Education vs Experience – What is more important in the IT industry?

Education vs Experience

Guest Author: CV-Library Recruiting Tips

Experience or education - which is more beneficial when looking for new recruits?  This is a question that hiring managers and employers have been asking themselves for years. But with both sides putting forward such strong arguments, it’s been difficult to come to any real conclusion.

As such, it could be argued that there is no right or wrong answer. But can the same be said for the IT industry? Especially as it heavily relies on individuals to be skilled in certain technologies.

To help you out, CV-Library has pulled together a list of the pros and cons for both, helping you to decide what to look for in a great hire.

Why education and qualifications are important

There are a huge number of IT qualifications you can get and for some IT roles, these are non-negotiable. For example, an IT Consultant or a data technician, which require you to have an IT related degree. In these instances, qualifications are going to be more beneficial than experience.

One of the biggest selling points of taking on someone with a strong educational background is that you know your candidate will have studied and learnt a huge range of skills.

This means they’re more likely to be able to jump straight in and not risk feeling like they’ve been thrown in at the deep end. After all, they’ll have been studying for the role for some time.  Plus, they’ll have been kept up-to-date with all the latest technologies and trends – some that your business may not even be using yet.

What’s more, studying for a degree or taking online IT courses shows dedication and passion for the industry. This is something that many employers take into consideration when hiring, as they want someone who is going to be enthusiastic and bring new and exciting ideas to the table.

Why experience is important

However, those with qualifications don’t always have the experience to back it up. For example, a recent graduate could come straight out of university and into a role but have no real-world experience.

Therefore, they could be left feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of basic workplace tasks and etiquette. Someone with experience will have had practice in a real workplace situation and will be better equipped to deal with the day-to-day tasks.

Not only that but someone with IT experience will probably have come up against problems in the past that they’ve had to overcome. Therefore, they’re more likely to be quick thinking, analytical and good problem solvers.

Experience is usually more beneficial for roles such as IT support. This is because these positions require someone to solve problems and prove they know what they’re talking about.

They’ll also bring with them a strong set of transferable skills. This means they’ll be ready to get to work straight away when joining a new company.

Is one better than the other?

There is no definitive answer in the education versus experience debate, though in the IT sector it very much depends on the role you’re hiring for. Those with qualifications will be better equipped to start in more technical roles, having the practical knowledge and skills to back them up.

Plus, those without qualifications may not have always used the latest technology or may have been working with outdated software/hardware in their previous role.

However, with experience comes knowledge. Those who have worked in a similar role are more likely to be able to hit the ground running and will have a better understanding of the role and their place in the workforce.

So what should you do when hiring?

When hiring, it’s important that you understand what’s going to be most beneficial in the role i.e education or experience, and be sure to outline these requirements carefully when writing your job description.

The best approach is to take each candidate on a case-by-case basis. OK, so they may not have all the qualifications you’ve asked for, but they may have a great portfolio and relevant experience.

Alternatively, they may not have the two years’ experience you’ve asked for, but they’re more than qualified for the role and they graduated university with a first, suggesting they’re very skilled.

It’s all about evaluating the candidate as a whole package and taking both aspects into consideration. Getting too hung up on education versus experience could end up costing you potentially great recruits.