HR & EDUCATION | Contributed Content, Singapore
Chris Reed

Singaporean qualifications don’t mean a thing without experience


Singapore is obsessed with qualifications. Everyone is geared towards getting the best and most number of diplomas and degrees and MBA’s. I hate to tell you all but they mean absolutely nothing without experience.

I recently hired three people and during the recruitment process I was inundated with people who had loads of qualifications but no experience. They all went in the bin un-replied. If I had a dollar for every application I received that started “I have an MBA…” I would be able to afford a landed house!

What makes you think that because you have an MBA that you can do the job requiring specific and extensive marketing experience?

MBA’s mean nothing, absolutely zero. I don’t even care if you have a degree. If you the relevant experience, have demonstrated that you understand what we do and have actual experience in delivering for clients/brands in our line of work and present well in an interview that will get you the job.

If you have a million qualifications but no experience why do you expect to even get a reply to an advert which specifically says that you must have partnership marketing/loyalty marketing experience? Why would anyone even waste time on interviewing you when you haven’t even read the advert and expect a qualification to get you further than someone who has actually got relevant experience and worked hard?

Am I being too harsh? Clearly Singaporean qualifications are not worthless but a helluva lot of applications are when they are centered around qualifications and without related experience to the role that you’re actually applying for.

I am always shocked in Singapore at how many people have qualifications from overseas schools in the US, UK and Australia but where they have never actually visited. I recently attended a Newcastle Business School alumni event in Singapore and I was one of only 5 attendees who had actually been to Newcastle! Everyone else had completed the course remotely through a partner educational establishment in Singapore.

(Singaporean qualifications: Think thrice before writing them off. Click here to read the article.)

That is all great for the education organisations who reap the money without the hard costs of labour, venue, accommodation, materials etc and one on ones but how good are the qualifications if you haven’t experienced life outside of where you live? Is there also just the hint that you will get your degree no matter what because you’re paying top dollar for it?

Every parent in Singapore is obsessed with after school classes, weekend classes, extra classes with the ultimate one-upmanship of having their son/daughter gain higher grades and more qualifications than a neighbour but at what cost to a Singaporean’s creativity, independence and experience?

If all young Singaporean’s are geared up to do is pass exams then they are not experiencing life and learning in the real world. Then when it comes to applying for a job they wonder why the more travelled and experienced expats end up with the higher paying jobs and running the companies in their homeland.

(You think experience counts? Click here to see a reply to Chris' article.)

It’s all about experience. If you haven’t got it you can’t learn it in school. Stop the obsession with qualifications and go out to the real world and get some experience. You will become a more rounded person and you will get the interview for that job you really want, the career you want and the life you want. The world is not an exam it’s a practical. Experience is everything. 

Chris Reed, Regional Partnerships Director (Asia), Partnership Marketing

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed has 25 years of senior marketing experience on both the client and agency side in the UK and now in Asia Pacific. He is the CEO and founder of Black Marketing.

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