Employers in the Tech Industry are Looking for Experience Over Degrees


Someone posted the question, "Who is more hirable: someone with 3 years of work experience and no degree, or someone with a degree, but with an internship experience?" This appeared in the popular knowledge sharing network Quora and one teacher responded that data shows that employers prefer to hire applicants who already have experience in the job and most of the time is not that particular of the candidate's educational background and the qualifications and degrees they have.

This intriguing answer came from Quincy Larson who is a teacher at - an open source community that helps members and participants learn how to code.

Larson wrote, "In the U.S., experience is more important than a degree." He then went on to explain that he was referring to working individuals who do not have their degree and clarified that he is not advising students to not go to college or drop out.

Employers conduct interviews to eliminate the risks of hiring the wrong people. If they decide to hire someone who does not know how to do the job, it will cost them. If companies will hire a candidate who will go cold turkey on them and quit in 6 months or less, it will cost them. If they hire someone they would need to train, again it translate to costs - costs for replacing that person, paying severance damages and the risk of being sued for wrongful termination.

One of the tips the Entrepreneur gave for hiring developers is to: hire slow and fire fast. They said that one the successful candidate did not turn out as expected, he or she should be let go as fast as possible because the mismatch might cause further damage to the team, the project and the business in general.

This doesn't quite go with Larson's comment since he cited how Boeing does it. According to Larson, the company prevents firing people and exhausts all possibilities to save the bad hire by getting him into training, training and more training for them to learn the skills and get the competence they lack.

This is perhaps one of the advantages of having a college degree comes in: when you do not have the experience but is able to convey your knowledge of the job and the desire to work for the company really well.

Nonetheless, the same article from the Entrepreneur says that employers should hire for DNA first, then the experience. Education has not been specifically pointed out as a criteria for hiring. This also holds true for another article that appeared in Forbes.

Granted that a college degree will matter less to the employer once he or she finds out about a candidate's professional experience, Larson shared a useful formula on whether or not going back to college to finish their degree will benefit developers or not in terms of return by making themselves more marketable, competitive and valuable from the employer's point of view.

He concluded the answer by saying that if you're still in school, just stay there and finish your degree. If you think it is too expensive, talk to your college counsellors and seek advice on what options are available for you.

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