I often see the discussion about qualifications and experience.

Some people do not have many qualifications in terms of education but their experience makes up for it. In a similar way can extra qualifications make up for less experience?

Let's say there are two people with same degree but with 3 years of difference in terms of experience. So can a person with lesser experience make up by earning added qualifications like a management degree or additional courses and certifications?

How effective/useful can these qualifications be in real world job market?

P.S I work in the IT industry.


4 Answers 4


Your cv is the sum total of your work experience, skills set and education including certifications, Employers look at the whole picture including the impression they have of the candidates after having interviewing them.

The qualifications you speak of are not decisive in themselves and in fact, none of the components of the cv are decisive. It's the totality of cv and feedback from interviews.

If you have a university degree, the university is usually a check-off item - the employer checks off that you have the degree and moves on. Of course,if you just graduated from MIT with an MS in Comp Sci and you interned at Google and you can program in Python, don't be surprised if some corporate recruiter black van snatches you right off the sidewalk :)

A management degree matters to the extent that the prospective employer perceives as relevant to the position. Perception and reality are two different animals and the reality can be disappointing. The reality may be that the degree in management is relevant to the position because the position involves interacting effectively with all parts of the firm including Accounting and HR. However, the prospective employer is not connecting the dots and thus fails to perceive the management degree as relevant.

Certifications matter weigh in the balance to the extent that they are relevant to the skills set for the position and to the extent that they are not perceived as paper certifications. If you lack experience in a certain area, having certifications in that area helps you make the argument that you not a n00b in that area.

Again, it's the totality of the components of your cv plus the impression you make at your interviews that matters. Employers make a mental picture of that totality and make a determination as what candidates have the better picture.

In my judgement from having spent 25 years in engineering and high tech, a strong performance at the interviews can make up for a lot of things and in fact, a weak performance at the interviews can break you despite the fact that you have a strong resume. Employers do not necessarily hire the best candidate but the candidate that meets their requirements and whom they like best.

So it's quite possible that given you have three years of experience, someone else has three years plus certifications and management degree and a third candidate may have six years of experience, the person who gets the nod is you. And you got the need because you met the position requirements just as the other two did, but our performance at the interviews was the strongest and the prospective employer liked you best.

In summary, it's a mistake to think that x years of experience, a skills set include y components, a management degree or certifications in A, B or C are the silver bullet that will get you hired.



We don't learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience. - John Dewey

Education and experience are two very different terms. One who does not have education can of course deliver better results than someone who has just earned a degree but receiving education from a professional perspective, usually, results in the ability to reflect experience to be gained in a more advanced way than otherwise.

We can argue that someone with working experience, but not an official degree, must have self-taught himself and therefor he has some education. You don't need a driving licence to be a good driver, but I wouldn't hire someone to drive my kids to school without one.

That doesn't mean I wouldn't hire non-educated programmers or IT people, many IT people I know are self-taught, but those who bother to spend some time gaining a professional perspective have an advantage when it comes to reflecting experience.

We can't use algebra when it comes to saying which person is better than the other, the overall picture is what counts and the projects ahead. In short terms it's probably better to hire someone with 3 year of working-experience but no education than someone who just graduated, but in 7 years (or 2, doesn't matter really) the one who bothered to get an official education has probably been able to learn faster and reflect on his experience in a more advanced way than the other guy, but of course, it varies between people.

So can a person with lesser experience make up by earning added qualifications like a management degree or additional courses and certifications

Short answer is Yes. It doesn't matter if it's management degree or IT degree, if the education provides sufficient understanding and professionalism required to do the job it will make up for a few years less of working-experience. The overall summary of the CV is what matters in the end.


It is of course going to vary from manager to manager, but personally iwourld rank these things interms of how I look at a resume to hire

  1. A track record of accomplishments similar to what I need (both in terms of experience in the technical and the business domain)
  2. Years of experience in the technical (this may include technologies that show the abiltiy to learn the ones we use for instnce a Java dev with storng accomplishments might outrank a C# dev with weak ones even for a C3 shop) This would include experience with personal projects if they are of a professional nature or level of difficulty
  3. Formal education (degree)
  4. Formal education degree not yet earned
  5. Personal projects that are not terribly business oriented
  6. Certificates

So no, earning more certificates would never, in my mind, make up for not having valid experince or formal education and you would almost always rank lower in terms of selecting people to interview than the people who had that.

If you want to make a bigger difference in your selection,I would go for a personal project where you actually have to build something that shows you have the skill level expected of a professional. I think that would move you up the ladder of things that are considered and would be abetter use of your time.

More formal education can help too if you have not yet finished an Bchelor's degree. I personally would not be more interested in someone with a Masters and no experience than someone with a bachelors because I don't have research type jobs to offer. A company with the kind of jobs that require that experience would of course find you more valuable with the higher degree. But if you have the Bacjhelor's degree, you are better off getting more experience than spending the time on more education for many jobs.

  • We need more people in this field that think this way.
    – user8365
    Jul 2, 2014 at 17:50

The value of certifications and degrees varies wildly.

For some jobs, any degree, the right degree or a specific certification are table stakes. If the company can't find a person with the qualification, they will have to hire a likely candidate and pay for the candidate to acquire the missing credential.

I do know of cases where a job will strongly prefer more education - often in difficult entry level engineering environments, I've heard managers say that they prefer a Master's --or-- several years of experience but won't be eager to hire a bachelor's. Whether you want to say the master's compensates for lack of experience, or the experience compensates for lack of a master's - it's really the same thing... either qualification works.

With that said, it's not a universal answer. There's seasoning to being in the working world of a field that can't be replicated with course work. So someone with a PhD and bunch of post-doc certifications won't get the same offer as someone with 20 years of experience in the field just because he's got mega-qualifications in a related topic. At some point, the ability compensate one for the other falls short.

I'll point out, too, that some certifications actually require the experience - a CISSP requires some number of years of work in the field, so it's as much a demonstration of experience as it is of knowledge...

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