According to a poll of 1,561 managing directors across the UK by studentgems.com, 61% of recruiters are more likely to hire an applicant with relevant experience rather than one with a degree or other qualifications.
With more than three million students currently studying for degrees in the UK, studentgems.com estimate nearly half will struggle to find themselves a job relevant to their chosen career path.
The survey shows 19%, of employers would hire an applicant with two years' experience but no qualifications in preference to another applicant with no experience but an honours degree. Of those employers, 11% said qualifications bore little importance in their shortlisting process.
But less than a quarter (23%) of employers would not consider someone without qualifications for a role if they did not have qualifications, according to the survey.
Sue Harrison, co-founder of studentgems.com, said: "With the current economic climate, job vacancies are receiving large amounts of interest and it is becoming more and more competitive - a reason many graduates are struggling to find jobs relevant to their degrees.
"One of the core aims of our site is to put those in education in front of employers, to encourage students to seek out relevant part-time work rather than retail or bar work. We recommend students spend time on preparing their CVs and put great care into improving their experience in their chosen study field in order to make them as employable as possible."
The results highlighted five specific industries that value experience over qualifications:
1 Sales - 72% admitted they preferred relevant experience over qualifications
2 Catering - 70%
3 Graphic design - 69%
4 Photography - 67%
5 Care work- 64%