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A recruiter will spend an average of six seconds looking at your CV (Curriculum Vitae), according to a study by TheLadders. ‘We’re looking for job hoppers, minimum education requirements and a candidate’s steady career progression,’ explains Will Evans, TheLadders’ head of user experience. ‘It’s a snap decision.’

There’s no argument that a degree is important when it comes to your CV. But is it more important than demonstrating continuous professional development?

Here’s what we know.

A degree will open many workplace doors

A degree has many non-monetary benefits. For example, the Department of Education believe a degree can offer:

  • Higher quality jobs than non-graduates.
  • Better health outcomes, by being less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise, and less prone to depression.
  • Children also benefit from the educational success of their parents: graduates tend to have a greater involvement with their child’s education.

In 2017, however, approximately 414,000 people in the UK graduated with an undergraduate degree. Given that the population of 18-25 year olds during that time exceeded 5.6 million, it’s safe to argue that a degree might not be the only answer to employment. Internships, diplomas and professional development courses are excellent alternatives.

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But, for many job roles – especially more senior managerial roles – a degree is still a minimum entry requirement. And for one good reason: it shows a commitment to learning.

Professional development will help your career progress

In short, a degree tells a recruiter that you’ve reached a certain level of education. Professional development, however, tells a recruiter that you’re willing to go out of your way to exceed that level.

Many companies today are realising the potential drawbacks of studying a degree. They can often be seen as quite limiting because they do not display a person’s full range of skills, including interpersonal and leadership skills, which are essential for roles in management and leadership.

Deloitte, for example, has recently launched their own university dubbed ‘The Leadership Centre.’ As explained by Heidi Soltis-Berner, Deloitte University’s Managing Director:

‘Coming to Deloitte University means stepping into a shared space of learning and discovery, committing to your growth as a leader, and making new connections.’

The entire focus behind the centre is continuous professional development. Those who are committed to learning like a leader will, more often than not, become a leader.

When it comes to fighting for that promotion, then, professional development is arguably the front runner when it comes to your CV.

What’s more important?

The answer to this question isn’t as simple as it might seem. Yes, a degree is extremely valuable when it comes to applying for a job role, especially if it’s with a new company and the role holds leadership or management responsibility.

However, it’s professional development courses that will give you talking points in an interview and that will help you demonstrate your eagerness to constantly take on board new information – a vital skill for any employee.

Here’s the thing, though: Education and experience are very different things, and both are important. A degree demonstrates your level of expertise on a subject, while professional development – especially when it leads to things like promotions – highlights your experience within a company and your ability to keep working on yourself.

In our eyes, the latter wins, every time. A person can be extremely well educated, but without continuously practicing and updating their skillset, they’ll quickly become outdated. Not everyone has the self-discipline and drive to continuously improve themselves. When it comes to a CV, then, the ability to do so is paramount.

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