As a recruitment professional, throughout my career, I have faced a multitude of job seekers enquiring about vacancies I have worked on overtime. Anyone who has had to recruit staff or has been a candidate for a role at some stage in their career knows the process itself can be an emotional roller coaster. For the job seeker, at times, the final decision from the hiring manager might make no sense to you. For others, you might have made it to the last stage interview which has seen you travel across international borders for site visit purposes, only to be shut down at the end. In some cases, following multiple interviews, the vacancy itself might be cast entirely aside following an industry downturn, a company takeover or corporate restructuring. All of these scenario's making for an emotional, tumultuous, up and down, time-consuming process which finds no result.
At times, a final decision on who will be the most suitable candidate for the vacancy will come down to what qualifications they have and what project experience they hold in comparison to the job description. In the past, I noticed many job seekers came to myself outlining that they were notified they came up short on a vacancy due to the fact they don't have a specified qualification. On the other hand, highly competent, proven professionals of whom hold an elevated level of experience missed out on jobs due to the fact they may not have worked on a project in X location compared to Y location. Sometimes oversight of brilliant candidates will occur as a result of incompetent HR process. However, most of the time there is a specified reason for the decision. In the white-collar world, I would say 90% of the time a blend of relevant qualifications, coupled with appropriate industry experience is required to achieve your career job search goals competently.
For technical positions, the majority of the time, I would say the qualification is a must. When I say technical, I mean any form of engineering role where a degree is a prerequisite. It would be hard for someone who has only ever worked in the field, to go into the office and sit behind a mining engineering software application and pump out mine plans for a large scale operation. An extended amount of time studying the profession, including geological makeup of varied resource deposits as well as various mining engineering software packages is required before an individual can competently conduct these tasks. The same concept would be applicable for civil, mechanical/electrical, geotechnical, aeronautical, I.T, biomedical, chemical & automotive engineering areas. In saying this, I have at times seen mining professionals of whom don't hold an engineering degree and simply have an extended amount of field experience, successfully migrate into the office and conduct work as a mining engineer. It is, however, rare and not the norm for many companies. For expat professionals seeking employment outside of home country origin, at times a degree (in any form) might be required as part of the employment visa process in that specified country.
In my opinion, firsthand experience is an absolute must for any form of leadership position. It's rare to see someone move straight from an engineering role in the office, to a site based role leading a group of staff. If an individual has never worked in a supervisory capacity, they most likely won't hold the leadership skills and capability to command and deal with the day to day complexities of effective management, regardless of the qualifications they hold. It is an intricate and delicate skill set of which requires an elevated amount of interpersonal awareness and communication capability. Many fail to get it right, and it's generally an area of which is fine-tuned and perfected in the field. In my opinion, you can't be a strong leader without having been in the field and dealt with tasks and challenges on a firsthand basis. There are fantastic qualifications in the field of management, which I highly recommend. However, the best managers of whom I have come into contact with have always been industry veterans who've spent years in the field learning from the "school of life". I've found that once these type of professionals get to a certain stage in their career, they will sometimes complete qualifications to add to their resumes in pursuit of enhancing their draw power to be in the running for more senior positions in the management chain.
In the professional world, firsthand experience and the qualification both have different levels of importance for different position types. Sometimes you might not need one or much of the other for a specific role, but everyone needs to understand that position requirements are never going to be the same for two different roles. The vacancy you might be applying for may hold the same title that you have held in the past (in a separate business). However, it doesn't mean the requirements are the same (e.g - management style, personality type, years of experience, technical knowledge, career development aspirations). There is a perfect role for each and every person, no matter who you are. At times, it may seem a hard concept to grasp, but it's most certainly the case. Whether you've excelled via academic efforts or via time in the field. My advice during the job search process is to draw relevance to your strong points or times during your career, whereas you have excelled significantly or achieved a notable feat. This may also include elevated results you have obtained during your study years.
The sure-fire way to continue enhancing yourself as a professional is to be aiming to broaden your capability and knowledge continually. Whether this is via the experience you are gaining in your current role or via further studies you are completing during times of lesser employment.
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