When Should Experience Trump Education When Hiring In The Social Sector?

Two people wearing graduation caps.

College degrees are becoming a minimum requirement for many jobs these days, including ones that used to be performed by high school graduates. In fact, more and more students are opting for graduate degrees to achieve a greater edge in the job hunt. However, are these individuals gaining enough work experience to perform in jobs in the real world?

When it comes to careers in social change, Fast Company Co.EXIST reviews a report by the Amani Institute, demonstrating how employers want more experience

“If you’re seeking a career in the social sector, an advanced university degree may not be the best ticket. While many prospective staff have abundant analytical and research skills, the employers rank leadership, problem solving, and communication as more important. They also think such attributes may be better gained on the job, or by working abroad, than in a classroom.”

In an older piece focusing on careers in international development, a journalist argues that while in many instances, credentials and formal education are key, we aren’t doing a good job of figuring out when a college degree is important and when it is not:

“Added to this is the fact that to a greater extent a large portion of the degree and diploma programs in developing countries are effectively worthless for those that attend them. Many certifying bodies consider them to be nothing more than diploma mills and anyone who receives a qualification from there is unlikely to have it recognized by a foreign body.

This also means applying for aid and development jobs elsewhere is restricted to those with a formal education in Europe, Australia, North America. The push for localization from donors can also be a hindrance as often they still require the same educational qualifications without taking into account the country of operations – oftentimes nationals will have experience, vital experience, but not the formal education demanded.”

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