Let’s just pretend for a minute that you’re the captain of a dodge ball team and it’s your job to select the best players. The pressure is on and it’s your job to give your team the greatest chance to win. You find out that the players you can select come from two different backgrounds. Group 1: These “players” have studied everything there is to know about dodge ball. The only problem is that none of them have actually played the game. Group 2: These guys and girls learned to play dodge ball through experiencing it and playing it previously. They know their strengths and weaknesses and can tell you exactly what position they will excel in. Which group would you select your team from? Maybe I’ve tilted the story a bit too one sided, but I think you’d be crazy not to take the experienced players in Group 2.
What am I getting at...?
Recruiters at each company play the part of the dodge ball captain. They share this job with the hiring manager, but the recruiters hold most of the pressure and responsibility when it comes to finding the best talent and candidate that will excel in the position in the company. Given this pressure, recruiters need to be strategic in their mission to find talent. It won’t go over well if the team they hire ends up not performing well. For this reason, recruiters are primarily interested in a team that has the related experience for the position. Sure, they’ll always want to find someone who has the ideal education, but any recruiter will tell you that hands-on experience beats theory and education any day. This is how Group 2 beats Group 1 every time in the job search. When writing up your cover letter, it’s important that your hands-on experience is always detailed and clearly communicated. This is a major differentiator for you, and your future captain, AKA recruiter, will be happy they found your résumé. This definitely does not mean that your education is worthless. What it does mean is that having the education is great, but backing it up with hands-on experience teaches you so much more about yourself, the skill, and the industry. Not only will you learn what you love and maybe hate about that career, but you’ll also quickly figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Pairing experience and education means that you can improve your skills, pick the right career and soon enough you’ll have every dodge ball team captain calling your name. -Rich DeMatteo