Best Degrees and Training for Today’s Jobs (revised)
Not being hired in today’s market…Is it even about degrees, training, or lack of experience?
It’s unfortunate, but when you need a job sometimes you need both the education degree, training certificate, and the experience just to get in the door. It’s frustrating seeing others without your work experience, walk in and take the job for which you may even be more qualified.
Today, of course, many newly graduated students are going back to the same old jobs because they can’t find a job they just trained for or spent a fortune on education. Not only that but many more are constantly changing majors hoping to hit the one that’ll nail a good-paying job by the time they graduate. I can remember when the computer programmers were going to make the big bucks, before that it was the MBAs, and I think before that it was miniaturizing electronics–making your radio and TV more portable. Now, your smartphone, tablet, game platforms, and graphics design are the new “plastic” from Mrs. Robinson’s day. (The film, The Graduate, in case you missed the reference.)
In some cases, you have to have a degree to go beyond a certain level in your job. I have a super smart sister who made straight “A”s and could have named her ticket to any major university. She chose instead to work. She enjoyed her work, but she became stuck at one level and watched several people who were not nearly as smart or as good at their jobs as she was get promoted because she didn’t have a degree. At the time she began working, the degree hadn’t seemed that important. For some people, it just doesn’t fit into their immediate plans for a variety of reasons, including financial.
It’s not a perfect system. However, combine some degrees with practical experience and use the knowledge (not in a book way) but in a way that makes sense, and you suddenly seem very qualified. So you don’t fit the mold exactly. Do what you love. Excel at it and you’ll find your niche, or it’ll find you. For example, say you have an interdisciplinary dual Master in English/Speech and Dramatic Arts (emphasis on performance criticism) and a Master in Social Psychology. Does that make a trainer? It can.
After spending 30-plus years in the military and government service, I trained in the corporate world and coached corporate speakers. Today, I teach and write. Not an architect, an engineer, or an MBA? The degree doesn’t match the job. Another example: colleges and universities love to hire PhDs and would rather have one over a Masters’s degree–even if the candidate has a Master’s degree with tons of applied experience. Or, even several Masters’ degrees in related areas. Colleges and universities are competing for credibility and the more PhDs, the more respect. Logical. Not at all. Well, it is to whomsoever is doing the hiring.
So, what’s the big difference between education and training? An education is more general and training is specific to a job. What you need to learn depends on the task. But education is general and has to be applied to life itself. What it does show an employer is the ability to start something and see it through to the end. Training Certification is a little different since it is more of a validation of specific knowledge. These days the hiring process has little to do with education or training. Most applicants are overqualified.
There’s more going on than choosing the most qualified applicant.
Let’s talk about when we are the ones looking for a job. We don’t realize, especially when it affects us personally, just how many people out there are looking for work. For employers, it means they can pick from a great many qualified people and eliminate them for reasons other than qualifications unless they are U.S. state or federal government. In those cases, it’s fairly easy to get around those restrictions or must-hire cases by changing and being very specific on the job description or on what pool you are allowing to apply. That way, the government employer gets exactly who they want to appear high enough on the list to hire. It’s hardly a perfect system no matter how many rules or laws you attach to it.
Some people are very qualified in either experience or education, or both. If employers want someone younger, they go with education. If they want maturity, they look for an experienced person. With both–an applicant can win. If it’s all about qualifications, but it usually isn’t just… You know that, right? At least sometimes. All right. Most times. Companies in today’s economy can pick from thousands of applicants. I think when we are looking for a job personally we do think in terms of education and experience. Some of us may go as far as to get some training in interviewing and resume creation. We don’t realize, especially when it affects us personally, just how many people are out there looking for work, and with that situation how many people are in the employee search assistance business. Some of us think we are very qualified either in experience or education. With both–we win. At least sometimes–we think… Not so fast.
Remember college athletic scholarships? Choosing average to above-average students who can play a sport extremely well makes fiscal sense to someone. Sports rankings increase the university’s or college’s status and provide income; some of that income does go for education. Fact. The student may have gone on to make millions or at least earned a college degree he or she might not have had without the scholarship. Balanced? I don’t know. Choosing a friend or relative for work who can’t play so well with others doesn’t make sense to anyone but those who are a part of the relationship. As stupid as it sounds, the college made a better choice all around. It may be a matter of perspective; however, the other decision is made in business every day.
We can’t help it that our years of experience may automatically tell someone how old we are. Employers aren’t supposed to discriminate at all (and this would be age discrimination), but it is all about getting the employee they want–not necessarily the best qualified. You don’t have to be a different race to be discriminated against. How about not getting it because you didn’t go to a particular school or because you were blond, short, or fat? That happens, too. As simple as a state, preferring to hire lawyers who attended a particular law school in their state. It’s much easier to be hired in the state where you received your degree(s).
Also, there have been studies. Tall, fit, youthful, attractive men are more likely to get most jobs. There are some exceptions that an attractive woman is key–especially those that want to limit the glass ceiling to women and still provide higher positions to men. In those cases, you’ll find the women in very visible positions like marketing or public relations; however, these roles usually top out in middle management with no direct line to upper management.
Yes, women are still paid less and the glass ceiling still exists even though more women are getting degrees than men. 60/40. Nevertheless, the more general fact remains that attractive people, especially women, are most likely to get some jobs, usually those interfacing with men. Charming people sometimes get the job if the company values charm, but mostly it’s handsome or pretty–unless dumpy is in. It rarely is–unless employees are not seen. The image plays a part, like it or not. And when people need to eliminate people from the pool, anything is game unofficially.
Despite education and experience, getting the interview is important, and there is at least one factor that you, the applicant, have some measure of control.
You can control your attitude, which does make a difference. I don’t care how good you are at your job, a bad attitude will make a company want to sacrifice your experience and know-how to train someone who’s enthusiastic about the company and wants to learn the “company” way not t0 have to deal with a potential “attitude” issue. It’s most likely an American phenomenon in terms of race, but, other countries have their own cultural biases. Whatever the potential bias–even if you feel it on the company end–if it’s going to be a problem for you, ignore the feeling, or excuse yourself from the interview. To get the job may take the art of diplomacy. That’s where charm and professionalism come in as well as sensibility.
The basic question now of education versus experience. It depends on the job. On the person. On the situation. On so many factors that it is ridiculous so we can’t really argue which is better. Fitting in is better. Every situation, every job, and everyone has their reasons for not hiring. We can’t assume that it is a lack of the proper education or experience that disqualified us from the job. Regardless of what they say, it may be something else that they can’t say publicly. Maybe they just didn’t like us; there was no chemistry. It’s all about fitting in. We all want to fit in, but we don’t always. Personally, I’d rather have that job where I fit in and the hiring folks agree.
The years of experience we can’t help, but automatically tell someone how old we are; they aren’t supposed to discriminate at all (and this would be age discrimination), but it is all about getting the employee they want–not necessarily the best qualified. You don’t have to be a different race to be discriminated against. How about not getting it because you didn’t go to a particular school or because you were blond, short, or fat? Or not handsome or pretty.
However, getting the interview is important, but attitude makes a difference, too. I don’t care how good you are at your job, a bad attitude will make someone want to sacrifice your experience and know how to train someone who’s enthusiastic and wants to do it the way they want them to do it. If you’ve passed all the other hurdles.
Today, being able to listen well and communicate are the most important abilities to demonstrate besides a friendly, non-antagonistic attitude. Employers don’t owe you anything. Not at this point anyway. Best advice. Bullying your way in won’t make you or your employer happy.
Well, that’s all for me. I hope this blog was a little different. I do try to be different and I hope that sometimes I make sense.
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These are my words and opinions. Please feel free to disagree and comment, or contact me. If you’re interested in more of my points of view–my Cave Man way of looking at things, I have a website where you can find other items I have written. For more information on my peculiar take on training, check out my best-selling The Cave Man Guide To Training and Development, and for a look at a world that truly needs a reality check, see my novel about the near future, Harry’s Reality! Meanwhile, Happy Training.