Sunday, May 6, 2012
Experience vs Credentials
Last week I added a task to my "to-do" list which I know I will procrastinate on and put off until as late as possible, and which gives me tummy butterflies whenever I think about it. I have to write a job application for the job I've been acting in for 2 years. It's been vacant for a while but due to other deadlines and projects, it's only now that a bit of room has been found in the schedule to fit in the recruitment process for the job. So this is make or break time for me. I'll either get to continue permanently in a job which I have considered to be "mine" for some time now, or I'll get pushed out by some outside superstar and be sent back to my "regular" position. I won't even try at this point to imagine how I would deal with that scenario if it really happened.
People keep telling me "Oh don't worry, you'll get it for sure", "I wouldn't worry if I was you", "They'd be crazy if they didn't give you the job!"...... And I know I have great experience in the job, have a successful track record in it, and have a really good chance of landing myself in it permanently, yet on the other side of the coin, I'm achingly worried that I won't get it. I've been in this situation before, and that time, there was a small parcel of worry at the back of my mind but for the most part I was confident that I had the job in the bag. And I did. But this time feels different.
I'm at a higher level then what I was that last time, and also, this job actually sits on my desired career path and is exactly where I need to be right now (let me emphasise the "right now" bit, as I do have the tendency to change my mind about "what I should be when I grow up" every now and then). But that's not the only reason that the stakes feel higher.
This job sits at a level where there could potentially be lots of people applying who have various degrees of some sort or another. Guess what my degree is in? Oh that's right....I don't have one. Gawd, I feel almost alien typing that. Who in this day and age doesn't have a degree after all?
Don't get me wrong, I wish I did have one. It's just that I've never fully settled on just the one ultimate career for me, making that kind of commitment and condemning myself to years of study/financial burden scares me. And let's face it, there are too many fabulous choices to pick just one. Therefore, I've never stuck with the idea of any of them for long enough to actually consider carrying out study related to it. I do have a diploma which has relevance to the job I'm doing and need to apply for, but what weight does a diploma really carry?
So I may be the applicant with all the experience in the position and in the organisation, but I'm the one without the framed piece of paper with the seal on it to back it up. Sometimes I think I should just choose to study something quite broad that can translate in to anything, like "management" or something like that, just so I have some kind of credential next to my name. It's not a bad idea actually, but I know that signing up for uni is not something to be taken lightly, especially when you have a family, a mortgage and childcare payments to be thinking about.
It really gets me down at times. People are surprised when they ask me what my degree is in, and I tell them I don't have one. They give me a stunned look, and I feel I need to explain how I got to where I am without one. Not that I'm sitting amongst the lofty heights of the executives or anything like that. I certainly never will be if I don't study to get there! But seriously, it does make me feel.....inferior at times. Like I'm a faker, or someone who just lucked out in managing to be where they are. Like I'm not intelligent or informed enough, regardless of the breadth of experience that I have.
Is that really sad? Am I really sad?
When it comes to experience vs credentials, what do you think is more important? And I'm not talking about a technical or specialised field here, more administrative and customer-service based. And please don't suggest the possibility of someone who has BOTH experience and credentials. I may just have to put my hands over my ears, close my eyes and sing "la la la la la" at the top of my voice until it's all over.