As a hiring manager I recall interviewing several candidates who had impressive amounts of training, certificates and higher education. They usually excelled at the interview. The stumbling block was determining their value to the organization. Their transferrable skill and experience related to the needs of the position that was being filled was always in question. Many times their specific experience was limited however their CV was excellent. This prompted the question, “what is more valuable, education, transferrable skills or experience?” Thus began the comparison between an impressive CV and relevant work experience.
On paper, and during the interview, these were the impressive candidates. Upon deeper inspection it became evident that their actual relevant experience or transferrable skills which could be incorporated into the needs of the position were lacking. Their refined communication skills and eagerness to explore a new profession was both impressive and encouraging. Sadly, this was not always what I was looking for. In the fast-paced aviation industry I was looking for someone who could settle right in with an ability to make excellent decisions, had a ‘can do’ attitude and who also brought real-life experience with them.
When I was with an organization with a very structured on-boarding and training program it became easier to offer employment to the candidate with impressive credentials and education. This often resulted in a dedicated employee who had already invested in their own learning and development. Thus, they were eager to learn a new profession and industry.
In several organizations I have seen resentment from seasoned employees, who had been turned down for promotions for external applicants. This was often in leadership positions where the need was for the transferable skills and education. Sometimes this worked well, other times not as well as expected. The internal employees, who were overlooked, rarely understood how education and transferable skills could be more valuable than experience.
During those times when I needed someone to hit the ground running and the organization lacked a structured training program I found myself re-evaluating the hiring criteria. In those organizations training normally happened on the job. When this was the case, my first action item was to confidently select the mentor employee(s) with whom I would a pair the new hire. I would then evaluate the needs for the new employee.
Experience trumped certificates and education in this case. With two candidates, being almost equal, the experience combined with certificates and credentials won the race. In these situations the successful candidate was almost always more easily integrated into the organization and accepted by the teammates because they had the industry knowledge and education to support it.
In conclusion, an impressive CV with certificates, credentials and post-secondary education was always welcomed. This showed that the candidate was serious about their continued growth and development. When the candidate already possessed relevant experience and transferrable skills this made them even more attractive. When I had the luxury of being able to take a calculated risk I was more inclined to focus on the transferable skills and education in lieu of experience. When I needed results fast I always found that the experience provided more value to the organization.
Scott Masciarelli, PCC, BCC is a leadership coach and trainer and multilingual avid world traveler. He partners with executives and expatriates to support both their personal and professional leadership growth. Scott’s clients achieve success on their terms.