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​Does relevant experience take candidates a degree higher?

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Last week, deverellsmith published a poll on LinkedIn asking professionals of the property industry what they value more: a degree, relevant experience, both or none of the above?

It was clear to see that the majority (63%) of respondents favoured experience, 22% said both, 13% said neither and just 2% said a degree.

What could this mean for employers?

Hannah Taylor, Manager for the Investment and Finance Real Estate sector, shared how employers in 2022 tend to be more open minded regarding a candidate’s background, whereas previously majority of hiring managers deemed a Real Estate Masters/Degree as an essential part of the hiring search criteria.

Taylor commented “The sector is definitely more open to people who can add as much value as possible which can be demonstrated through a track record within their previous experience.”

If somebody had a university degree and no experience it would deem the individual less attractive than someone with experience and no degree. It can take graduates anywhere from 6-24 months to adapt to the working way of an office, adapt communication skills for certain situations and gain the confidence to really shine (or learn to not be seen as overconfident) rather than just understanding the technical background of the job.

Taylor further commented “We often see students or graduates undertake two 6-month internships, so they have a chunky amount of experience to rely on when applying for roles. This can either be done during the university summer break, gap years or post-graduation.

The personal opinion of Mark Yelverton, Sales and Marketing Manager of Rydon Homes was that experience is required further down the career ladder, when a business needs to fulfil a non-entry level role.

Yelverton expressed in his own view, “I selected 'neither' as the answer I would have liked to vote for (if it had been there) would have been 'attitude'. In previous roles in my past, when I was hiring at entry-level, I wanted to find someone for my teams that was interested and enthusiastic, someone who would listen and bekeen to learn. Everyone deserves a start in our industry and the good ones are in it for life.”

A large portion of the industry has seen graduates from Oxford Brookes, University of Reading and Nottingham Trent University filter through the ranks. Other graduates have found entering the industry a challenge – including Kemi Ogundipe who we interviewed for a podcast back in 2019 - purely because their degree wasn’t obtained from one of these highly acclaimed courses.

When it comes to creating a more diverse pipeline of talent, Paul Modu (Senior Surveyor at Knight Frank) provided insight on Knight Frank’s 2021 strategy back in October. For the first time, Knight Frank took a cohort of graduates from areas other than Reading University and Oxford Brookes University, which has already created a more diverse group of individuals.

Sarah Hayford, CEO of Land Collective - a multi-award-winning commercial awareness and career development platform, that aims to connect more young people from diverse backgrounds with the built environment sector - spoke with deverellsmith last year on how it’s extremely difficult for someone who isn’t wealthy to gain the relevant experience which employers are looking for to accompany degrees.

A lot of extremely intelligent and capable graduates are missing out on opportunities due to finances and being setback in life. Can your business introduce an initiative which targets graduates from low socio-economic areas and supports them gain the necessary work experience?


What could this mean for graduates?

Employers like to see that candidates can apply real-world experience to their role and having this experience in such a competitive market can help graduates to stand out. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the form of a full-time position, but internships, apprenticeships and work experience placements can put graduates a nudge ahead of the rest.

Prospects UK emphasises the importance of relevant property-related experience, and highlights way graduates can gain this, from opportunities arising within real estate or the buildings and estates division of universities.

What could employers also be looking for aside from a degree or experience?

Interestingly, 13% replied to deverellsmith’s poll with neither, highlighting there are other areas in which employers are placing higher importance on over a degree and relevant experience.

Prospects UK suggest that many property employers place a strong emphasis on extra-curricular activities that develop soft skills like teamworking and leadership. This demonstrates how employers want candidates who are going to add value to their team and have the capability of working with colleagues efficiently to contribute to the business’s success.

When hiring at entry level, employers want to see candidates with a great attitude, someone who is willing to learn and desires to develop within their career. We can see this with the industry generally supporting further study while you work, and many provide opportunities to work towards gaining professional RICS status, for example.

 If you are looking to hire graduates you can speak with one of our talent partners by completng th form here or if you're a graduate seeking an opportunity you can take a look through our live job board here.