Why Skills Matter More Than Your Degree

19 01 2017

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When applying for a job, hiring managers are going to look at your education to determine whether or not they feel you are qualified for the job. But your degree and education are not the only important factors when considering if you fit the job needs.

The skills and experiences you have are sometimes more important than your education. In many ways, having the right set of skills will be more beneficial than having the right degree.

But why are your skills so important when applying to a job?

Skills Better Show Your Personality, Values and Goals

While your degree can show you are educated and a hard worker, it doesn’t tell much about you as a person. Your degree can show you’re capable of completing the job tasks, but it doesn’t tell how well you will fulfill the other necessities of the position.

In order to be successful in a job, you need to have communication skills, time management skills, and teamwork and leadership skills. If you’re unable to work as a team, communicate with your coworkers, and properly manage your tasks, your education won’t matter.

A Degree May Get You the Job, But Skills Help You Advance

Your entry-level positon is rarely the job you hope to be in until retirement. While having the right degree and the right education may land you the entry-level position you need to enter the workforce, without necessary skills you won’t move beyond into higher roles and responsibilities.

If you want to continue to receive promotions and be handed bigger and better projects, you need to show you have the skills employers are looking for in long-term employees. Continue to develop your skills even after you’ve been hired into your initial position.

Skills Show Experiences Education Can’t

When you’re ready to enter into the workforce, you’ve had years and years of experiences and challenges behind you that do not relate to your degree. Through part-time jobs you’ve held, internships you’ve participated in, or even military experience, you’ve developed skills, habits and behaviors your degree cannot represent.

If you didn’t have a traditional education or feel your skills better reflect what you can contribute to the position, you may want to consider applying to a job using a different kind of resume. By highlighting your skills instead of your education, you’re putting what you feel to be most important at the forefront of the hiring manager’s mind.

Having a Degree is Important the Focus of the Degree is Not

When you go to get a degree, the field of your degree is becoming less and less important. As jobs become more fluid and majors become more specific, it isn’t always clear where a degree lines up in the workforce. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

A degree tells a hiring manager you are serious about continuing your education and you are able to follow a rigid course of classes and requirements to achieve a goal. Having a degree is typically a prerequisite for entering the workforce and getting a job, but the focus of your degree is becoming less and less important.

If you’re applying for your first “real” job, don’t stress too much about your degree. As long as you’ve received a quality education, you’re serious about the job you’re applying to, and you’re ready to work hard for the company that hires you, your major or field of focus won’t be the most important application factor. Instead, let your unique skills, values and perceptions land you the job of your dreams and fuel you through promotions and raises.

sarah landrum head shotAbout the author: Sarah Landrum is a graduate from Penn State with degrees in Marketing and PR. Now, she’s a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on navigating the work world and achieving happiness and success in your career. She’s also a member of the Campus to Career family, serving as a featured contributor on a regular basis. You can find her tweeting during boring speeches @SarahLandrum

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10 Ways Top Candidates Set Themselves Apart

10 01 2017

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Let’s face it, if you were hired for a job based on your resume alone, there would be no need to interview. But because no one is hired solely as a result of their work experience and/or accomplishments, interviews are a necessary evil. The face-to-face meeting does, however, offer an opportunity to go beyond the resume and set yourself apart from other equally qualified candidates.

So, how do you leverage the interview to rise above the rest? It all comes down to communication. A recent study declared verbal communication the top skill employers value in recent college grads. Being well-spoken is the best way for candidates at every level, in every industry, to gain an edge over their competition.

Here are a few more specifics:

Make your excitement about the opportunity obvious

Companies want to hire people who are eager to work for them, so express enthusiasm while you’re answering interview questions. Oddly enough, candidates don’t always realize that they aren’t fully expressing their interest. More often than we want to admit, recruiters get the following feedback from clients, “I like this candidate but s/he didn’t really seem excited about the position.”  Ouch, that stings and is definitely hard to recover from. Put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes. Wouldn’t you pick the candidate who showed more interest and excitement about the opportunity, assuming all the skills were there?

Don’t make the interviewer dig for answers

Solid candidates recognize what the interviewer is trying to uncover based on the line of questioning and respond accordingly. This means they don’t just say, “oh I have great organizational skills,” but they actually offer unprompted examples of how they organize their priorities and how their organizational skills positively impacted the outcome of a certain project.

Leave the generic responses at home

Great candidates usually have a unique point of view and thoughtful answers to questions asked. Don’t be afraid to gather your thoughts in front of the interviewer before responding to a question, rather than rushing to give the generic answer that the interviewer has probably heard a hundred times.

Convey flexibility

It’s wonderful to be committed to a five-year plan or to have clear, professional goal in mind. But you don’t want to come across as rigid, especially since your specific goals may limit you from opportunities and or direction that only become apparent with a new position.

Command the convo regarding your previous experience

When responding to questions, you are either in control of the answer, or the answer is like a runaway train. Candidates with excellent communication skills talk about their past experience in precise terms with specificity. Prior to an interview, brush up on the details of your work history and the progression of your career so that you can talk about any aspect with ease, and use it to your advantage when needed.

Hear what Atrium Recruiters have to say about standing out in a job interview.

Quantify your value

If you have numbers to back up your experience, use them. Whether it’s dollars saved or earned for a company, time-saving efficiencies you introduced or other quantifiable successes, be sure to articulate them during the interview process. #humblebrag

Show that you can take initiative

Effectively communicate that you’re they type of employee who takes initiative. Even at the entry-level, companies hire individuals who will evolve into leaders. Convey this during the interview by providing an example of a project where you self-started or went above and beyond.

Talk about being growth-oriented, without talking about future positions

Great candidates are able to express a desire to grow within a position for their own betterment and to add to their own skill set, not necessarily to climb the ranks. 

Be genuine in your delivery and comfortable in your own skin

An interview can put people on edge and make them tense. Although easier said than done, be yourself. It’s critical that you come across as genuine and authentic in order to build rapport with the interviewer. If you do this well, the interviewer will come away with an idea of what it would be like to have you on his/her team.

Keep the conversation fluid

Make the interview enjoyable for the interviewer! Ask questions that engage the interviewer and facilitate back and forth dialogue.

****For this fantastic post, Campus to Career thanks our friends at Atrium Staffing!!****