Qualifications vs experience

In our latest South Wales Echo column, Lauren Keen, Recruitment Consultant, asks the question: how can jobseekers, graduates and school leavers use both qualifications and experience to launch their careers?

As university students break up for summer and graduates throw their caps in the air, this time of year prompts an age old debate: qualifications vs experience!

Lauren Keen, who covers Cardiff and Newport, shares her concern that the question should never be qualifications v experience, but instead how can jobseekers, graduates and school leavers use both to launch their careers?  

  • Career clarity – by doing work experience alongside your studies, you’ll be able to get a clearer picture of how you want your career to progress. You’ll achieve a sound understanding of the different areas within the industry, and therefore may choose to go on to further education / post-grad courses to specialise in certain fields.
  • Up for a freebie? – Summer holidays are a perfect time to book your work experience so it doesn’t interfere with exams and assignment deadlines. I know plenty of people that kick started their career by working for free for a week during their summer breaks in their 1st and 2nd years at University. This was then extended to a paid-for job for a longer period of time, which then provided a great entry for their CV to stand out in the crowd when applying for a permanent role.
  • Build a network – never underestimate the value of getting to know people wherever you go. Whether in education or at work, get your name out there. Building relationships with employers and potential colleagues will help you get great references, as well as building a name for yourself, so ultimately your network will become bigger. Social media platforms, including the use of Twitter is a great way to network and develop relationships – follow and engage with key players in your industry.
  • Use all the sources available to you – we understand some degrees offer very little spare time to allow for work experience, however with so many webinars, podcasts and videos at instant reach there is no excuse not to stay up-to-date with latest trends, legislation and / or processes within your chosen career. If you do sign up to regular podcasts and webinars try to include this within your CV – this will show your potential employer that you want to learn, and are committed to the job your applying for.

Whether you’re on a break from university, a graduate or looking for a new job, it’s important to acknowledge that qualifications and experience go hand-in-hand to support your career goals.

Irrespective of your age, you never stop learning. It’s great to be able to demonstrate that you have experience and relevant qualifications in your CV and especially at an interview to be able to give real life examples.

Lauren Keen joined Acorn in 2015.  She specialises in permanent recruitment, within a number of sectors including marketing, sales, business development, accounts, finance and administration, matching the best jobseekers to great positions in South Wales.

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