What is more important for your employer - Skills or Qualifications?

Let’s see which one has more weightage – skills or qualifications?

Dheeraj is a CFA and is vying for a highly coveted job as a Financial Analyst in a multinational boutique analytics firm. However, he lacks necessary skills for a new age analyst such as financial modelling, SQL, Tableau, data analytics etc. Neither was he an expert in presentation and report writing. However, he was academically very sharp, extremely well-read and confident about his knowledge. Does he stand a chance to bag the job?

Sunita, another contender for the same job, has always been very career focussed. Alongside her graduation, she added necessary skills to her kitty and she was extremely good at it too. Financial modelling, data analytics, knowledge of IFRS, coupled with strong writing and presentation skills. However, she lacked a formal degree in financial analysis. Does she stand a chance to bag the job?

Well, it can be tricky to answer these questions.

It brings us to the eternal debate of “Skill or Qualifications”. Today many of you have a formal qualification such as an MBA (Finance), CFA, CIMA or a CA. These are globally recognised degrees, but sadly they aren’t too focused on practical skill sets. Right from the time you start planning your career, you are made to believe that acquiring these degrees is the ultimate key to make it big in the professional world. However, it is far removed from the truth.

On the other hand, you may think that these degrees are at best a piece of paper and the only thing that will give success to you is adding one skill after the other in your kitty. Ultimately, it is only your acumen that counts. However, this isn’t true either.

Difference – Skills or qualifications?

Degrees are a formal validation of your domain knowledge. It gives assurance to the employers to consider you for a job which requires a strong technical knowledge base. These employers do not know you personally and you are just among thousand others who have applied for the job. So your qualification or degree acts as a distinguishing factor and helps them to screen your profile. The more renowned a degree or institution, the better are the chances of you being considered for the job.

However, only securing a job is not your ultimate motive. You need to excel at it too. This is where requisite skill sets come into the picture. Skills are your biggest strengths when you want to excel in a job. They are essential tools which help you to overcome day-to-day challenges at work. Not just this, these skills also help you to bring out your expertise in the best possible way. In the world of finance, skills such as Financial modelling, Fin Tech operations, Data Analytics etc. are like hooks which help to catch the attention of your superiors and take note of your talent.

Depends on your goal too

Having established the basic differences between qualification and skill set, the importance of each of these also depends on your career objective. If you want a job in a multinational corporation or any established domestic organisation, you definitely need to go for a formal qualification alongside your skills to be eligible. In these situations, you cannot help without a degree.

However, if your intention is to establish an entrepreneurial venture, then you need to work more on your skills rather than qualifications. Start-ups thrive on what you are good at and skill sets are more important here. That doesn’t mean entrepreneurs need not have degrees, but skill sets do the trick here.

Conclusion: Both go hand in hand

We shall wind up saying that among skills or qualifications, both are equally important – and complement each other.

One cannot survive without the other. One gives you acceptance, which the other ensures your survival. You are fortunate to live in times when you don’t have to wait till your first job to acquire certain skills. You can very well pursue that alongside your formal degrees and get the best of both worlds.

How about a CFA with financial modelling, CFP with Financial Modelling, CIMA with Business Analytics, CA with IFRS or an MBA with Digital Marketing. Options are many. All you need to do is identify which skills complement your qualifications so that you find your way towards skills or qualifications..