Why Skills Matter More Than Your Degree

19 01 2017


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


2012’s Top 20 Posts on Your Career

21 12 2012

Top202012 has been a fantastic year for Campus to Career.  I’ve learned a lot through successes and failures this year.  Opening up this blog to select guests throughout the community has added a lot of value, both to me as a blogger and hopefully, to you as a reader.  I thought I’d share with you Campus to Career’s top 20 posts of the year.  Each is unique, bringing you a wide variety of tools to use in the job search or in your current career.  Listed in order of reader popularity, they are:

1. Co-Op vs. Internship: What’s the Difference?   – Have you ever wondered what makes a co-op different from an internship?  Check out this article to learn what sets them apart and which is the best fit for you.

2. Smile & the World Smiles with You    – Smile.  Just smile.  It’s good for your health and your career.

3. Quality vs. Quantity: 3 Points to Consider – Lessons learned from childhood that still resonate to this day!

4. 10 Simple Ways to Succeed in Your New Career – Starting a new job soon?  Here are 10 easy ways for you to launch your career on the right foot.

5. Lessons on Failure from Wile E. Coyote  – He’s still chasing the Roadrunner, but there’s a lesson in there. Click the title to read how Saturday morning cartoons do more than entertain.

6. Recovering From a Screw-Up at Work – Oops. You screwed up. So what? Don’t let it be the death of your career. Learn how to recover like a boss.

7. Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in…College? You’re probably thinking, “wait, I thought that was kindergarten?” Yes, but there are some great things you’re going to learn in college that will propel you into your dream job.

8. 5 Things Every Young Professional Should Know Before Hitting 30 – 5 things. That’s it. Zach Buckley provides some great insight into what exactly we need to do before we hit the big 3-0.

9. [INFOGRAPHIC] How an Applicant Tracking System Reads Your Resume – Where does your resume end up once submitted online? The recruiter’s desk? A black hole? Learn how the system analyzes the content on your resume.

10. Leverage Life by Maximizing Efficiency – Maximize efficiency, get more done. Simple enough.

11. Internship Advice from Vanilla Ice – Stop, collaborate and listen.  Seriously, though…there’s a career lesson in there.

12. 5 Reasons Why Athletes Make Great Employees – Why leave your participation in team sports or the fact that you’re an athlete off your resume? Read this article to learn how you can use your athletic involvement to position yourself for success.

13. 5 Things to Leave Off Your Resume – Drop ’em like they’re hot.

14. Top 4 Career Choice Tips for New Grads – Graduated or will soon? There are 4 choices you’re going to have to make. Check out this great post from Annie Favreau from Inside Jobs.

15. Goal Setting: Possible Dreams – If you can dream it, you can achieve it.

16. Landing Your Dream Job: Part 2 – The Phone Interview – Dogs barking in the distance? Annoying roommate practicing with their garage band? You might want to re-think where you take the phone interview. Click the link for a few more tips.

17. Career Services – Gaining Value for FREE (Part 2) – Not using Career Services on campus as a student?  You’re probably missing out! Take advantage of the free services…you’ll be glad you did!

18. Teamwork According to The Smurfs – What can little blue men (and a woman, sorry Smurfette) teach us about teamwork? More than you think.

19. 3 Strategies for Staying Positive during Your Job Search – You’ve applied everywhere. No one has called you. No emails in the inbox. You’re starting to freak out. Read this article to learn 3 ways to keep positive.

20. Branding Lessons from MTV – Remember when MTV actually showed music videos?  Seriously…they did.  Snooki wasn’t even a bad daydream in some director’s head at that point. Learn what MTV has to teach us about branding.

What is YOUR favorite post on Campus to Career?  Let me know.  I really value your opinion and insight.  That’s how this blog has evolved and how its able to bring you fresh content every week.  Blogs, Facebook and Twitter aren’t broadcast platforms to me.  They’re about building relationships and engaging in conversation.  So, let me know what you think.  Let’s make 2013 even better!

Thanks for reading!

Career Services – Gaining Value for FREE (Part 2)

26 10 2010

Last week, we covered the value of Career Services from the perspective of corporate recruiters and career center staff.  To recap, the response to the question of “Why would you use Career Services as a student?” was unanimously this: Why not??  Why wouldn’t you want to take full advantage of the FREE resources and services your campus career center offers? 

Another topic of agreement was that students should take full advantage EARLY in their college years.  Just because you’re a freshman doesn’t mean there’s not value to be found.  It’s never too early to research prospective future employers, get your résumé started, and begin preparing for the interview.  Those that do utilize their career centers have been statistically proven to be more likely to find a job right out of college (Research from National Association of Colleges & Employers.  Click here for the full report.)  So, the main question I posed to current students and recent graduates was:

“Why do (or don’t) you use your career center?”

Here are some of the answers I received:

Do/did use

As a recent graduate, I went to a few on-campus lectures on résumé writing and interviewing.  They were a good resource to have. 

Career Services office has direct personal connections with employers.  They can make introductions and provide services like mock interviews.   My job was a direct result of working with my career center!

Career Services professionals are most knowledgeable in business and can help job seekers navigate across functions and through the different industries.

Don’t/didn’t use

Career Services seems to be unapproachable and doesn’t relate to current students (out of date materials, no engagement with social media, etc.)

I had no idea of the great things my school’s career center offered until I was told about it by a classmate.

To be honest, I had no idea what my career center offered until I graduated. 

My career center is very intimidating and has an unwelcoming atmosphere for students who don’t know what they want to do when they graduate. (Isn’t this the whole reason why career centers exist?  They should be helping students prepare for the business world and land that great first job out of college!)

Just like the last post focusing on career services professionals and corporate recruiters, I see two common themes when speaking to students and alumni:

  • Students simply don’t know what their career centers offer and the value it can provide in their job search and overall preparation.  If their friends aren’t using it, why would they?
  • Career centers are largely missing their target audience: students.  Outdated material, out-of-touch professionals (those that haven’t been out in the “real world”), and lack of engagement in social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook keeps Career Services unknown to the general student population.

Let’s face it.  This doesn’t apply to ALL career centers.  Some are doing it right, communicating effectively with students with relevant material and services that are valued in the eyes of undergraduates.  If this is your career center (or was when you went to school), please feel free to share that with everyone!  Everyone talks about the bad – one or two people talk about the good. 

What can Career Services do better?  It’s all about communication.  Don’t just post announcements on your website and call it good.  Stay top of mind with your audience, offering relevant information such as interview preparation (you can make it fun, too!) or something more unique like business etiquette for a lunch meeting.  Activate your employers to engage with students year-round, not just during “career fair season”.  You could host industry spotlight sessions, interactive networking functions, and mock interviews to help students prepare themselves for the business world.  Invest in your most valuable asset – your students!

What can students do better?  Step outside of your comfort zone and do this for your personal and professional growth.  It may not seem “cool” to go to an etiquette lecture, but how stupid will your friends look when they tuck their napkin into their shirt at a lunch interview?  You’ll know better.  Plus, you’ll be better connected with employers and have a better sense of business when you graduate so you can hit the ground running (and most likely WITH A JOB)! 

What did I miss?  It’s all about collaboration for the greater good.  Feel free to leave your comments below, email me at kirk.baumann@att.net, or send me a tweet.  I’d love to hear from you.  Let’s make this a win-win for everyone!

Now, go get ‘em!

Career Services – Gaining Value for FREE (Part 1)

19 10 2010

Career Services: those are two words that are familiar with thousands of college students across the globe. Everyone knows of Career Services, but very few have actually utilized the resources available to them. Those students that have worked with their Career Services office on campus have actually been shown to be more likely to find a job right out of college, according to NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers). Click here for the full report.

Here’s the best part about Career Services: the resources are FREE!! As a student, all the fees and services are included in your tuition, so why not take full advantage of the wide array of career development tools like expert career advice, career fair information, employer information sessions, full-time, internship and co-op opportunities, and résumé/cover letter writing assistance??

I used the opportunity to crowd-source some of the information used in this post, reaching out to university Career Services professionals, corporate recruiters, students and alumni. There are two approaches that I’m going to take with this subject. We’ll start with the feedback received from recruiters and Career Services. The second part of this series will be posted next week. There were two common themes in my conversations with recruiters and Career Services:

• Career Services is most beneficial for the value they provide in the areas above (paragraph 2). Additionally, the connection that Career Services has with corporate recruiters and industries is of great value – one-off networking alone can still achieve this, but it is harder to do.

• Students should start utilizing their Career Services office beginning with their freshman year, not waiting until two months before graduation to solicit résumé assistance or interview preparation.

When I talked with Christian Garcia, Director of the Toppel Career Center at University of Miami about why students should use career centers, he gave the simple answer that rings true:

Why not? It certainly won’t hurt and can help provide much-needed career direction and assistance. Career centers are designed to help. Once you’re out in the real world, where are you going to find this help for FREE?”

Other notable comments came from Michael Hernandez, Regional Campus Recruiter, JC Penney, who said,

As they (students) progress through their academic program, career services should be used to network with potential employers. They (students) often wait until the final two years of school to do this. Students can stand out from the crowd by already demonstrating successful résumé writing, interviewing, networking, etc.”

So, why wouldn’t you want to set yourself apart and utilize the free services available to you?

Special thanks to:

Cindy Billington – Assistant Director, Graduate Business Career Services – Texas A & M University (@CindyBillington)

Mallory Bower – Assistant Director, Career Services, University of N. Carolina –Pembroke (@MalloryBower)

Judith Clare – Director, Career Services, Bryant University (via @BryantUniv)

Tom Fitch – Assistant Dean, Career Services, McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia (@tomfUVA)

Christian Garcia – Director, Toppel Career Center, University of Miami (@christiangarcia)

Michael Hernandez – Regional Campus Recruiter, JC Penney  (@MrCareerGuy)

Jennifer Rutt – Director of Strategic Alliances, NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers)  (@NACEJenRutt)

Next week, I’ll be covering some of the student and alumni I was able to gather around the topic of using their career center. My question to them was “Why do (or don’t) you use your career center?” So far, I’ve gotten some great comments! Do you have something to add? Please feel free to leave a comment below, or email me at kirk.baumann@att.net, if you’d prefer to remain anonymous on the blog. As always, thanks for reading!

Recruiting: It’s More Than Just Showing Up

14 09 2010

In the current economic state that our country (and others around the world) is facing with the recession, the unemployment rate is sky-high despite the efforts of many.  What we’re beginning to see is the light at the end of the tunnel, with companies starting to hire again, actively recruiting in their communities.  What the recession has taught (and is still teaching us) is that we can’t keep doing things the way we’ve always done them.

The recruiting landscape is ever-changing.  In order to remain effective and relevant, recruiters are being forced to either roll with the punches or risk becoming obsolete. 

Here are a few ideas and suggestions on how recruiters can stay on top of their game as they prepare for career fairs, both on campus and in their communities:

Find your voice.  Your employer brand is a big deal to prospective candidates.  How do you describe the career opportunities available?  Are your job descriptions and company brochures written in Legal-approved “corporate speak” or are they simplified, and easy to understand?  Beyond the basic career fair collateral, are you using platforms like YouTube, blogs, and other social media sites to promote your company with real people, showing candidates a true “day in the life”?  The topic of employment branding is a big thing to cover and deserves its own blog post, so I’ll elaborate more in the near future. 

Make a commitment.  Do you show up on campus once or twice a semester for career fairs and wonder where the students are?  Do you do the same thing at a general community career fair?  Making a commitment to local community or campus organizations and groups will not only help you educate potential candidates on your company, culture, and career opportunities, but it can be a positive branding opportunity.  Ask yourself this question when you start measuring your results: Am I giving as much as I expect to receive?  More?  Less? 

Show up.  One of the biggest issues in recruiting is that it’s a field where the need is immediate and not typically thought about long-term.  When a company experiences a hiring freeze or doesn’t have any positions open at the current time, they tend to pull out of career fairs, off campus and out of the community.  In my opinion, this is the wrong approach.  You’ll be hiring again in the future, right?  Why not view this as an opportunity to start filling a pipeline of candidates?  Even if you can’t afford to fly corporate recruiters across the nation to participate, I would encourage you to engage your local managers if possible.  They’re the voice of the community.  You can still communicate that you’re not hiring at the moment, but focus on the fact that you want your company to stay top of mind when the positions do open up.  Branding is the main point here.  Be honest, but take resumes, think about the pipeline, and continue to educate the masses on the opportunities available with your company. 

Show up prepared…and coordinate.  “Show up” is intentionally reiterated here.  If you’re a recruiter working with a large company that has field operations, think about coordinating with the local managers and corporate so that you’re representing one enterprise at the career fair.  Nothing is worse than showing up from corporate, only to find out that the local representative are already there or from the other side, showing up from the field with you (most times) limited supplies and have corporate show up with the nicer, fancy materials and booth collateral.  What message are you sending to candidates? 

Have a clue.  The last point that I’d like to mention is that if you’re recruiting at any event (unless it’s a specialized, industry-focused event), have a general knowledge of the common entry-level positions with your company.  Just because you don’t recruit for that job, doesn’t mean that it’s ok to tell candidates “well, that’s not my area of responsibility” or worse, make something up.  The best approach to this is to simply say, “You know, I’m not 100% certain on that area, but I’d be happy to take your resume back to the right person.  In the meantime, please be sure to apply online for the jobs of interest.”

Here’s the call to action: 

Job seekers: What are you frustrated with regarding recruiters at career fairs?  Tell us – we can’t change without your input!

Recruiters:  How can job seekers and career services work with you to maximize your recruiting experience?  What do you wish we (or you) would do better?  Same thing goes here as it does above – tell us so we can adjust!

Career Services: What are the challenges you’re hearing from both sides?  Again, we can’t fix it if we don’t know it’s broken.

Have a comment?  I welcome them!  It helps with transparency.  Please leave your comment below.  I’ll be sure to respond as soon as possible.  If you prefer not to have your comments publicize, you can email me directly at kirk.baumann@att.net.  I’d love to hear from you. 

Let’s work together to change the world of recruiting and job seeker resources for the better!

3 C’s: FREE Job Seeker Resources

27 07 2010

We all need a little simplicity in the job search, right?  While some have really figured this out, many websites and resources have brought more complexity than simplicity.  Let’s call it “simplexity”.  I took this idea and broke down job seeker resources into three basic categories: Career Services, Corporate, and Community.  It doesn’t have to be crazy complicated.  Instead, bring the simplicity back you’re your job search.  Without further ado, lease find the 3 C’s of FREE Job Seeker Resources below. 

Career Services

  • Most college students have no idea of the services they provide.  I know that I didn’t discover Career Services until it was too late.  NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers) recently surveyed over 13,000 graduating seniors regarding Career Services.   Resume help was rated in the top percentile, with interview preparation ranking in the lowest.  Here’s the full story:  Top 5 Career Services.  Take the time to discover what they can help you with in your career search. You’re already paying for it with tuition and fees, so use it!


  • There’s a lot that can be learned from the corporate side of things.  Whether it’s a corporate recruiters on campus leading an information session about their company, corporate blogs, or company websites (yes, there are some good ones out there), it’s a great way to learn about common entry-level positions, the history, culture and how you’d fit within the company.   It’s all about doing your homework, here.  If you want the inside look, check out Glassdoor.com.  It’s a free site that provides insight into salary, interviews, job seeker and employee reviews and more.  Help the recruiter help you.  Learn about the company BEFORE you approach their booth at a career fair. 

Community (traditional & online)

  • Face to face networking can sound scary, but there’s a ton of value in this.  That’s why I’m putting face to face above online networking.  Each can complement each other, but if you can, I would suggest networking as much as you can in person.  It’s easy to do through campus or community organizations such as Young Professionals Network or something similar.   Meet new people in the community – they may be able to help you.  Go with a plan in mind, though.  Don’t just toss out business cards left and right.  Know why you’re connecting and don’t make it all about you.  Ask how YOU can help.
  • Social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are popular social networks that have millions of job seekers, recruiters, and HR professionals participating.  It’s a great way to learn more about them, build your personal brand (increasing Search Engine Optimization, or SEO), and build your credibility within the network.  Another great social network is Brazen Careerist.   Also, don’t underestimate the power of blogs (like Campus to Career) to help you in the job search, mature as a professional, and maintain your personal brand.  Here are some of my favorite job search/HR blogs: Keppie Careers, Pongo Resume, Real Career Management, Ms. Career Girl, and new to the blog scene, Mr. Career Guy.  Check out the Blogroll on the right side of the page for more recommendations.
  • Don’t stop networking just because you found (or didn’t find) a job.  Use this opportunity to build your reputation and pay it forward, helping those that may find themselves in the same situation that you were recently in.

Everyone takes a different approach in the job search.  I would encourage you to use all the resources that are available to you (especially the ones that are FREE).  

I wish you the best in your job search.   If I can help with anything, please let me know.  Just click the “Let’s Connect” tab at the top of the page.  I’m easy to find.  🙂  As always, thanks for reading.