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Experience, Skills or Education - What Will Employers Want More In 2023?

6 months ago by Saima Chadney

Experience, Skills or Education - What Will Employers Want More In 2023?


​So you’ve decided that 2023 is the year for your career. Maybe you’re entering the working world for the first time or decided to leave your current job in search of one your heart desires. Either way, you are probably wondering how to stand out to employers in a sea of other highly desirable candidates.   

One of the most common questions people have when trying to do this is whether education or experience is valued more. A few years ago, a degree was seen as a necessity, but times are changing and opinions have evolved. Are those with a bachelor's degree still favoured? Or, is having hands-on experience in a workplace more important?  

This blog will look at the benefits of each route and discuss the different perspectives employers have on them. It will also explore some of the key skills valued in the current job market and how these can be demonstrated by any candidate no matter which path they’ve taken.  

Why Education Is Valued By Employers 

Unless you want to work in a profession such as medicine, law, engineering, or teaching, a degree isn’t always essential and might not be listed as a requirement on a job application. However, that doesn’t mean employers see it as a waste of time. A degree is much more than academic prowess, it shows you can commit to something and work hard at it for a good length of time.  

The three or four-year process teaches you a lot about yourself and enables you to develop intellectually and socially. You learn about the importance of theory and expand your knowledge of a particular topic to a greater depth. Some employers see this as an advantage as while you haven’t got hands-on experience in a specific industry, you do have the ability to quickly learn new things and develop a higher level of understanding than someone without academic training.  

You'll also gain numerous transferable skills from your studies that can be applied to any job such as the ability to research, analyse, manage time, communicate with others, and work independently.  

Why Experience Is Valued By Employers 

While higher education can serve a purpose, business owners, CEOs and entrepreneurs often see experience as being more important and may list a degree as more beneficial than essential. Candidates who enter the professional world straight after school demonstrate grit and the ability to carve their own path rather than taking the more conventional route. If you’ve stayed in the same industry for a while, it also shows commitment and assures the employer you won't leave shortly after starting.   

Work experience allows you to gain skills that are directly related to the position you're applying for and provides proof that you are capable of carrying out the duties listed in the job description.  

Research has shown that 75% of employers are less interested in university degrees than they were a decade ago and most look at work experience on a CV before education. Therefore, it might be worth thinking twice about getting into debt over a university degree if you can gain experience somewhere else.  

Consider A Combination Of Experience And Education

A recent poll we conducted here at Gleeson revealed that the majority of people see education, experience and skills as equally important in today’s working world. If you’re able to, gaining a combination of all three will help you stand out as a strong candidate who can adapt to working and learning in different environments. It demonstrates you have the willingness to learn, can commit to hard work, and possess the right first-hand knowledge and skills to be a professional.  

There are many ways for you to work toward a qualification while also gaining experience. If you want a degree but are afraid about missing out on professional experience, you could consider a sandwich course with a year in industry. Or, if you'd prefer to avoid university debt, apprenticeships are becoming increasingly popular. These pathways give you the best of both worlds providing a great mix of theory and practical learning.  

Key Skills Employers Currently Look For 

It's important to remember that employers don’t just look at education or industry-related experience. New research has shown that 87% of employers value a positive attitude over qualifications in entry-level roles and many are adopting a greater willingness to consider soft skills. The focus is less on where you gained these skills, but more on how you can apply them and use them to excel in the role you’re applying for. Below are some of the skills that are valued the most by employers in the current job market.  


Being able to work well in a team is important for the wider success of a business. Hiring managers are often looking for candidates who can actively listen to people, take on board any ideas or concerns, delegate certain tasks and be productive within a team. In an interview, provide an example to show your teamwork skills. Maybe you worked on a group assignment at university that was successful, or you were part of a project at work that resulted in a positive outcome for the company. Whatever your example is, as long as it demonstrates your ability to work efficiently in a team, it will be valid.  


Employees who have excellent written and verbal communication are an asset to any organisation. Being able to articulate yourself clearly reduces the chance of errors in the business and increases productivity levels.  


No company is perfect, it’s expected that things will sometimes go wrong. Employees who can problem-solve quickly and efficiently are highly valuable. Providing examples of when you have resolved an issue, whether that be at university, or in a job unrelated to the position you’re applying for, will give employers the confidence that you will be able to get through challenges that inevitably arise in a business.  

Motivation and enthusiasm for the role 

An employee who has passion and excitement for their work can be a rare thing to find. Employers favour candidates who show genuine interest in the mission of the company and are enthusiastic about contributing to it. Showing your keenness for the position in your cover letter and attending the interview with a positive attitude is just as important as the qualifications and experience listed on your CV.  

It's Everything About You…  

In addition to degrees, apprenticeships, and industry experience, it’s important to remember that personality matters too and will continue to do so in 2023. 48% of employers consider the personality of a candidate to play a key role in their decision to hire them or not.  

Overall, whether it's from experience or education, employers in 2023 will want to see you have a good balance of theoretical and practical skills that can be used to generate success in the job you're applying for. And at the end of the day, if you choose experience first, you can always go back to education later, and vice versa. It's never too late! 

Are you going to be searching for a new role in 2023? You’re in the right place! We’ve hundreds of positions available in legal, engineering and manufacturing, IT, human resources, and more. Alternatively, you can search all our positions here, or register with us.