Season 5, Episode 3:

College Degrees… The Expectation, or the Exception: Part 2

Companies like Google, Microsoft, and Apple have all recently gotten rid of their requirements for tertiary education–but is this an attempt to find hidden talent, or a signal that the value of a degree has dropped? We left off last week with advice from a person Steve placed—the president of a software company who didn’t go to college. When it comes down to it, what’s the real difference between those who do and those who don’t go to college?

“I was talking to a client… the president of a software business. He happens not to have a degree when the requirement was to have one.”

A number of years ago Steve was able to place the current president of a software company— someone without a degree. This man’s advice was, “Just because someone has a degree, doesn’t mean they’re any good at their job… an unmotivated person without a degree is no different than an unmotivated person with a degree.” Success in a given job can’t be shown most of the time if you’ve gone to college or not– but it sure can help. You can learn all sorts of soft skills while in college, but when it comes down to it, the wrong person for the job is still the wrong person for the job.

“You are more than what your college degreesays.”

Just after Steve’s comment, Dana took the mic once again explaining the importance of experience outside of your education. “To have things like prior experience, internships, etcetera, that shows that you are more than what your college degree says… it shows you have the knowledge, but prior experience shows you are driven to improve.” It also shows you are more willing to apply the knowledge you’ve gained in school, Steve added. You are more than what your degree says—but that can swing both ways. Are you motivated to succeed and take on new challenges, or are you just hoping your degree program shines through on your resume?

“They have a master’s in HR but aren’t even being considered.”

Eager to share her experiences as a recruiter, Robin talked about how many people will continue their education without getting the experience in the industry to match. “Now they have a master’s degree in human resources, but they aren’t even being considered for an HR assistant.” She mentioned how in her personal experience, she ensured that she took advantage of opportunities to gain experience along the way go a long way when beginning to look for a real job. “Obtaining the knowledge from the degree while you’re gaining experience at the same time is really what makes someone successful.” Without a degree and the experience, it could potentially be harder to get into your field, but once you get the ball going, you might end up with more qualifications than the person with little experience and a higher-level degree.

“A degree is a plus if it’s the right person.”

Noting how within Qualigence no position requires formal education, Steve mentioned, “that seems to be an ongoing sentiment that if they can do the job, do we care [if they have tertiary education].” There are roles where college education is necessary though: doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, etc. People in HR are also a good example of this, where one needs to have knowledge of laws and compliance issues in order to be successful in their job.

“What advice would you give your kids, however?”

“Lilly, when you see this,” Anthony began, “go to college… but look at what you want to do… ‘is this degree going to leverage me in my career field or my area of interest?” Anthony mentioned how though he is passionate about psychology, he used it as a springboard to launch his career where he thought he could be more successful: human resources. “I’ve learned about HR. I wasn’t interested in HR! From there I can set myself up to getting the jobs that I’ll fall in love with.” Justin brought up next how the expectation with most parents now is to ingrain the idea that in order to be successful, you have to go to college. “What I think it needs to be is, if you know what you want to do… sure! Go straight into college… but if you’re not sure what you want to do… take a few years maybe and think about it.” We all know people who spent time working towards a degree but ultimately changed their major and career path because they were pressured to pursue something they weren’t passionate about. Steve himself went to school to be an architect but 25 years later now runs a recruiting and research company.

“Is it for everybody?”

Steve then asked Raleigh, “If you had the choice between going back to school or not, what would you do?” Raleigh answered frankly with, “I would still do the same thing.” But is college for everyone? “College doesn’t necessarily have to teach you [responsibility and organization] …if you want to work those four years and save up enough money while living with your parents that’s ok too… [so long as you] aren’t just sitting at home.” The same skills you can acquire in school, you can get in the ‘real world.’ Going to college was the expectation for Dana as well, but she noted how there are alternatives people her age can take advantage of that allow them to build vocational skills. “There’s trade school… community collegee, you can transfer… it’s about what you can afford, what you eventually want to do, what you think that you’re good at, and how much you’re willing to apply yourself.” Not having a degree certainly hasn’t held back our marketing manager, Ian, who said, “It hasn’t hindered me but going [to college] for the time that I went still had value.” Brett also made clear that “college degrees are becoming the expectation, not the exception anymore.”

A college education is becoming the bar, but is it really an indicator of how successful you’ll be in the future? Probably not. There’s an option for everyone, and you must decide what you’re willing to work for. In a marketplace indeed, “saturated with degrees,” this issue is more relevant than you might think– whether you are just getting your career started or are in the middle of it.

Want Recruiter Fuel in your inbox?

Subscribe to have weekly episodes of Recruiter Fuel sent straight to your inbox every Thursday at 2 p.m. →

[pardot-form height="200" id="39974" title="Subscribe Real Talk --- Light Blog"]

About Recruiter Fuel

Recruiter Fuel is a weekly video series dedicated to all-things recruiting and talent acquisition. Learn More our mission and how you can submit a topic, be featured in an episode, or nominate an expert to guest star on an upcoming episode.

Visit the Recruiter Fuel series directory for more content.