When Google’s senior vice president of people operations evaluates candidates, there’s one quality he isn’t searching for: a tertiary degree. “When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings,” he told the New York Times last month. “And we should do everything we can to find those people.”
At least in the technology industry, the philosophy seems to abound. At accounting software company Journyx, CEO Curt Finch shares Google’s philosophy. “I couldn’t care less about what degree an applicant has,” he says. “If they can do the job, that’s what matters to me.”
“Technical skills can be taught,” says Structure Studios CEO Noah Nehlich, who was a college dropout himself. “It is much more important to build a team with people who have the interpersonal skills to work together productively and communicate than it is to hire someone who just looks good on paper.”
Is the college degree moving into irrelevancy? A Gallup poll of Americans found that candidates’ views are not in line with those of recruiters/employers. While half the general public believes a candidate’s college major is “very important” to hiring managers, only 30% of business leaders agree. And while 80% of the public says the institution where an individual receives a degree is important to organizations, less than half of business leaders pay attention to that factor.
Particularly in young workers, a college degree may be no indicator of how prepared they are for the workplace, according to a Bentley University poll. Six in 10 Americans said recent college graduates’ lack of preparedness for the workforce was a problem in the US.