Recently I asked my LinkedIn connections – what’s more important on a CV of someone who is fresh out of school or college – grades or workplace experience?

The result?

14% voted for grades but a colossal 86% voted for workplace experience.

Was that a big surprise?

Not really! It was the answer I was expecting. Never once have I needed to ask my team what they got for GCSE Geography, but what I will notice is if the office environment seems like an alien planet to them when they first come on board.

Not that exams and grades aren’t important, quite the opposite.

What I’m driving at is that gaining experience in workplace settings is as important as what you achieve in the classroom because it can give you the skills and confidence to thrive when you hit the working world, keeping you a step ahead of your counterparts.


In some sectors, rightly or wrongly, you cannot progress without a degree, so do your research before you decide to skip University. Many people would argue honing your research and analytical skills are a great starting block to any career.

If you want to head in to a career with a specialist skill, this is undeniably the perfect place to learn.


Gaining work experience shows you have the grit to succeed and that you are committed to furthering your career.

A study in 2015 found 58% of leading employers rated work experience as “the most popular qualification among those presented,” with a student’s personality coming second, with 48% favouring this.

It also comes back to hiring for attitude because you can always teach skills!

But there’s no right answer!

It is worth remembering that we are all different – employers and employees – we all learn differently and see success differently, and no two jobs are the same.

There isn’t one rule for all, and however long you stay in education, I would recommend you start gaining experience as early as possible – it may give you the edge when you start your attending job interviews.

Courses that offer work placements are a really great introduction to the working world as well, and a great insert for your CV.

So don’t shy away from gaining experience, as that part of your CV is just as important as what you achieve at school!

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