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Sorry for the belated reply, but I get the digest version.
I'm in Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada and once interviewed my HR Manager
about this issue. She told me that many of her associates (herself
included) look at experience first. If the person has 3+ years
experience they almost never look at education, they look at the
portfolio. If the person has little experience, then they look at the
portfolio and education.
Also, there was no difference in how they perceived a Bachelor's degree,
or a Masters degree, or a list of courses from the community college,
the most important piece is the portfolio. The one sure way you can be
guaranteed the person can write (and sometimes this isn't even the case)
is to see a portfolio. You can have a Masters in English and still not
be able to write quality documentation.
By all means, continuing education is important, whether it be
on-the-job or formal classes. When it comes to classes, I was advised to
take courses in the areas I need to improve or want to expand and
continue to build my portfolio. I think having experience behind you,
and the portfolio to back you up is just as important, if not more.
On a resume, I think formal education wins, hands-down. A
MS/MA/whatever, officially granted and endorsed by an established
institution sticks right out and says you did the time, did the work,
Now what you actually get out of formal education vs. self-education is
a completely different thing. People learn in different ways.
I learn by doing, and though formal education gives me some context with
which to work, I don't truly learn anything worth remembering unless I
get my hands dirty.
So if you're looking for something that works on paper, go formal. If
you're looking for something to broaden/enhance your knowledge, do
whatever works best for you.
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