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Will you consider "equivalent experience" next time you need to fill a position?

You may have heard the phrase "will consider equivalent experience" used if you've filled many positions with the University or if you hang around the halls of HR's Talent Acquisition team.

What does it mean?

Considering equivalent experience is an option available to hiring managers when they have an open position to fill. When considering candidates, hiring managers can substitute the educational requirement with an equal number of years of related work experience. The chart below shows how it typically works.

 Educational Requirement  Equivalent Experience
 High School Diploma/GED  None
 Associate Degree  Two years of related work experience (plus any additional required experience)
 Bachelor's Degree  Four years of related work experience (plus any additional required experience)

The option to accept experience in lieu of education can certainly cause a hiring manager some hesitation and can lead to questions: Why would I   do this? What kinds of positions are appropriate for accepting equivalent experience? If I accept equivalent experience, will I get hundreds of job seekers submitting their resumes for my employment opportunity? We're Purdue, a higher education institution; shouldn't we prefer job seekers who have a higher education?

It's OK to ask these questions! Let's consider each one individually.

Why would I do this?

You want to find the best candidates and diversify your candidate pool. Accepting equivalent experience is a very easy way to do that. Many available job seekers grew within their profession, but may not have been afforded the opportunity to pursue a formal education, for whatever reason. When you strictly require a degree, you are depriving yourself of these vastly experienced candidates.

What kinds of positions are appropriate for accepting equivalent experience?

Appropriate positions have an educational requirement that is beyond a high school diploma and a knowledge base that can be learned "on-the-job." Many of these positions are standard administrative/professional staff career opportunities. However, each opportunity is unique, and you may have circumstances in which accepting equivalent experience is not appropriate. For example, in the case of faculty, research and/or executive level positions or where specific departmental attributes make it necessary to seek candidates with a formal education.

If I accept equivalent experience, will I get hundreds of job seekers submitting their resumes for my employment opportunity?

Accepting equivalent experience will likely increase the size of your candidate pool and your opportunities for finding the best available candidate. What it will not do is water-down your candidate pool. You will benefit from the added depth and choices available to you. If you find that your candidate pool gets too large, your talent acquisition/HR specialist can help you focus on the top candidates.

We're Purdue, a higher education institution; shouldn't we prefer job seekers who have a higher education?

This is a good one! As a well-respected institution of higher education, we as employees, are committed to and value the benefits of a higher education. As an employer of choice, we also actively seek to diversify our workforce and select the best candidates for each open career opportunity. It would be incorrect to assume that candidates without a post-secondary education fail to offer valuable skills and experiences that would benefit the University. Limiting our candidate pools to only those with a higher education may not always be the best approach to fill our open positions.

When you have an open position to fill, think about your situation and whether or not accepting equivalent experience is appropriate for you. Be sure to let your talent acquisition/HR specialist know if you would like to accept equivalent experience. We will ensure that your posting reflects the correct verbiage and will be sure to review the candidate resumes appropriately. Also, your talent acquisition/HR specialist is a great resource if you have any questions or need advice about this topic.

- Melissa Martin, PHR
  Talent Acquisition Specialist

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LeadingEdition is an electronic newsletter for Purdue University supervisors.  It is produced and distributed by Purdue University Human Resources four times annually.  If you have questions, comments or suggestions relating to the newsletter, please call 49-41679 or email us.  Thank you.