Successful career: The balance between qualifications and work experience


In the current job market, candidates are often expected to have both the right qualifications and relevant work experience. But what holds more weight: a qualification or work experience? It's a balance many candidates try to strike. Employers look for the ideal mix, but their preference can vary. Let's delve deeper into this issue.

The value of a qualification

Qualifications clearly indicate the academic knowledge and skills you've acquired. They serve as proof of your commitment and ability to specialise in a certain field. For many roles, these qualifications are essential, showcasing that you have a solid foundation before starting.

Benefits of a qualification:

  • Proven knowledge: Qualifications guarantee you have a certain foundational knowledge
  • Entry to specific jobs: Some professions, like a doctor or lawyer, require specific qualifications.
  • Competitive edge: A qualification can set you apart from other candidates without the same educational background.

The value of work experience

Work experience often provides a glimpse of one's skills in a practical setting. It shows that you can not only grasp theory but also apply it effectively. Moreover, it proves your adaptability to a professional environment, collaboration with colleagues, and tackling real-life challenges at work.

Benefits of work experience:

  • Practical knowledge: Experience demonstrates how you apply knowledge in real-world scenarios.
  • Soft skills: Working cultivates essential skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving.
  • Networking: Work experience often helps build a professional network beneficial for your career.

Which holds more weight?

It's a question many candidates grapple with: qualifications or work experience? Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all answer, as it varies by job, company, and even sector. In areas like specialised technical roles or academic positions, degrees and certifications might be decisive. On the other hand, industries where hands-on experience and proven workplace skills are prioritised. Therefore, it's always crucial to research what's specifically important for your desired role and industry.

Some considerations:

  • For entry-level positions, the emphasis is often on education. Naturally, recent graduates might not have vast work experience. Yet, internships or projects during studies can boost appeal.
  • For senior roles, it's more about demonstrated capability. Work experience holds more weight since practical knowledge and expertise are indispensable in such roles. Your track record and leadership ability can be decisive.
  • In fields like the creative industry or tech sectors, a compelling portfolio or distinct skills can sometimes outweigh any qualification. It's about what you can showcase, whether it's a stunning design collection or impressive coding.

Tips for a balanced resume

  • For starters: Highlight your studies and relevant practical experience, like internships or projects.
  • For professionals: Showcase your work experience but don't forget your educational background.
  • Be specific: Mention tangible projects and outcomes, backed with facts and figures.
  • Keep learning: Regularly attend courses to stay updated and showcase your eagerness to learn. 
  • Networking: Maintain industry contacts and utilise platforms like LinkedIn.‍
  • Personalise: Tailor your resume and cover letter to the specific job you're applying for.


Both work experience and qualifications are valuable on your resume. The key is finding a balance that aligns with your career goals and the roles you're targeting. By presenting your achievements and qualifications rightly, you ensure your resume stands out to potential employers. If you're looking for a partner to support your career development, consider QGROUP. We're experts in guiding professionals to their dream job. Contact us to discover how we can assist you.

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