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.
About 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
4 thoughts on “Why Skills Matter More Than Your Degree”
I agree that the kind of degree you earn is less important than the skill set you choose to develop along the way. You can be a hard worker, and not know how to communicate effectively.
In addition, you can have an outstanding resume and interview very well, but somehow be unable to work as a team. True, a lot of these soft skills are taught in classes these days; less lectures, more small group work. But if you don’t recognize it as a skill you need to keep and master, your ability to transfer it to the workplace suffers.