What recruiters think of your education

By Emma Smith 08 February 2017

A woman wearing an academic cap. Photo by: Unsplash

Whether it’s a university degree or a training course, further education requires a significant investment of time and money. With international development remaining a highly competitive sector, a graduate degree can not only help you reach the candidate shortlist, but is likely a requirement for the job. Online courses and certifications can also be a way to keep up to speed with the latest developments in your field. It can also lead to greater employment opportunities and career advancement. Or, does it?

To help you figure out which path is best for you when it comes to your education, Devex spoke to over 100 global development recruiters to understand what they are thinking when evaluating a candidate’s education. Whether you are contemplating grad school or simply thinking about updating your skills to boost your job search, here are few things to consider when it comes to education.

Choosing your degree: What’s in demand?

For the third year in a row, a master’s degree in international development or development practice is top of the list for jobs in the global development sector. Of the recruiters we spoke to, 63 percent predict this will be the most “in-demand” degree of 2017.

With 37 percent, the second highest in-demand degree is a master’s in business administration, followed by 24 percent who say a master’s in public health is the most important. Graduate degrees with a background in economics, econometrics and statistics also rank highly among recruiters, as do graduate degree programs in the area of environmental science, natural resource management and climate change.

What do recruiters think of online degrees?

Online degrees are popping up everywhere and can be a great solution for cash-strapped students, busy professionals traveling the globe, and people living in countries where there are fewer brick and mortar school options.  But will an online degree help you get a job in development?  Devex spoke to three recruiters to get their take.

Online degrees: Are they good enough?

Despite many top schools now developing online courses and making them more easily accessible to a global audience, recruiters are divided on the value of online degrees. 48 percent of those surveyed think online degrees are “okay” depending on the institution, but were skeptical of those degrees from for-profit and online-only institutions. 23 percent of recruiters do not believe online degrees hold as much value as traditional brick and mortar institutions.

However, for mid-level professionals or those in regions with limited access to higher education, online degrees are viewed more positively. 25 percent of recruiters said online degrees were more acceptable for these candidates.

Short-term courses and certifications: Are they helpful?

While short-term courses and certifications can help make up for a lack of a traditional degree and experience, they don’t hold much weight when it comes to candidate evaluation — that’s according to 58 percent of recruiters.

20 percent did, however, say that short-term courses and certifications can add value to a CV and demonstrate a candidate’s commitment to staying up-to-date with the relevant knowledge and skills. Here is a list of the top online training courses to further your career in global development.

Researching global development graduate programs? Ask these 8 questions

Pursuing a graduate degree may be one of the biggest investments you make — both in time and money — in pursuit of your dream job. Here are eight questions you should ask when trying to choose the right graduate program for your global development career.

What’s in a name?

When it comes to global development, the prestige and ranking of a university is not as important as you might think. 41 percent of global development recruiters say that when evaluating a candidate, the prestige and ranking of the university where a degree is obtained is “not really a factor.” Only 9 percent of recruiters considered this to be “very important” in their evaluations.

Have you pursued an online degree or completed a short-term course? Do you think it helped your career prospects? Are you a recruiter or hiring manager? What do you think is most important when evaluating a candidate’s education? Please leave your comments below.

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About the author

Emmasmith
Emma Smith

Emma Smith is a reporting and communications associate at Devex, based in Barcelona. She focuses on bringing the latest career and hiring trends, tips, and insights to our global development community. Emma has a background in journalism and, in addition to writing for news publications, has worked with organizations focusing on child rights and women’s rights in sustainable development.


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