Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Hire for Education or Exerience?

I recently completed a masters degree. People struggle with the "titles" they acquire and the pedigrees they can list on a resume. At a graduation luncheon with the church staff, it was interesting to note the conversation around the table. All of a sudden, people were interested in what rung on the ladder they were. What degree do you have? From where? How long did it take you to finish? How long have you been on staff here? Do you plan to go further in your education? These questions were not asked about me...but those around me. It's easy to play the comparison game, isn't it? Almost sounds like who gets to sit at the right hand of God in the end. It's all about the best seat in the house. Or is it?

Would you hire someone with a degree with minimal experience or someone with plenty of experience but no degree? I was recently asked this question by several people who were contemplating major next steps in their lives. There are definitely pros and cons to
both. While everyone would like to hire both well educated and well seasoned professionals, I firmly believe that experience outweighs education. I'm not saying that I don't value both, but if given the chance to hire someone with 4 years of education vs. someone with 4 years of experience on the field - I'd take experience. Here's why...

1. Real life situations don't compete with education when it comes to working with people. I'd rather have someone who is great with people than someone who runs over people with their knowledge.

2. You can gain education along the way in the real world. For example, you can easily get together over lunch with others to talk shop. There are books to read. There are seminars and conferences to attend.

3. I've found educated people tend to ask experienced people how they've done things. Occasionally you'll get the opposite, but only occasionally. And when it is the other way around, the real worlders usually say, "Oh yeah, I guess I already was doing that - I just didn't know what to call it."

4. At times, an educational institution can have master teachers who are excellent at theory, but theory in a bubble. While this isn't always the case, it can be frustrating to hear what an "ideal situation" should be like only to discover that the real world produces different results.

Please don't misunderstand me, institutional education is important...just not as important as real world education in my book.

God, help me to remember who I really am. It's not my title, my knowledge, or even the experiences that make me who I am. You have already made me a child of You. Help me to act like it - regardless of my background.

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