Congratulations! You got accepted to <insert name of expensive 4-year university, here>. Your career is set, right? Maybe not.
While a prestigious college name certainly doesn’t hurt your resume, a new Gallup Survey tells us that—in hiring decisions—“only 9 percent of business leaders say the school on a candidate’s diploma is ‘very important.’”
So, this begs the question: What do they care about?
- 84 percent said knowledge in the relevant field
- 79 percent said applied skills in the field
- 28 percent said college major
- 9 percent said place of education
“Business leaders say that the managers responsible for making hiring decisions are far less concerned with where job candidates earn their degrees, or even the type of degree itself, than they are with what knowledge and skills a candidate brings to the table,” according to the Gallup report.
This corroborates with Google’s recent study on its internal hiring practices, which concluded that the Googlers’ education background, GPA, SAT scores and even ability to crack brainteasers were poor predictors for success.
In fact, there are many Googlers who never even went to college! Academic excellence simply does not necessitate success in the corporate world.
Hiring Managers Want Proof of Your Skills
And the more niche your skills, the less employers will care about where you went to school. “Brandon Busteed, the executive director of the Gallup Education, told Quartz that, while top companies hire from an exclusive set of colleges, “the survey points to a greater emphasis on hiring people with specific skills.”
Roy Cohen, career coach and author, The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide, agrees and says that sharp, profitable skills are what hiring managers look at first and foremost.
“Hiring managers look immediately for demonstrated skills and the potential to add value upon entry,” Cohen says. “That value can be measured in dollars, in hard skills, and in relationships if you are in a client-facing role.”
You’d be a Great Cultural Fit
If the job requires a ton of team interaction and collaboration, would you be okay with sharing credit? Are you willing to take one for the team? Listen to others?
On the other hand, if the job requires more autonomous, self-starting qualities, would you rise to the occasion?
“Skills and experience are very important, but if a person does not fit with the company’s culture they will either leave or be terminated usually in a matter of months,” says HR Professional Tom Armour, who calls cultural fit the single element of hiring.
Take a look at the job at hand, company website and social channels to figure out what kind of cultural fit they’re looking for. The right cultural fit will go way further than someone who clashes with the style, but happened to attend Yale or Harvard.
How You Adapt and Continuously Learn
This isn’t something you can learn at school.
Google—and many other successful corporations—care more about the way you think, work and solve practical problems.
“It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information. We assess that using structured behavioral interviews that we validate to make sure they’re predictive,” Senior Vice President of People Operations of Google Laszlo Bock told the New York Times.
It’s skills, fit and drive that lead to strong achievements.
While Gallup’s survey offers strong favoring toward on-the-job knowledge and skills, keep in mind that some industries still favor a narrow group of colleges. Management consulting and investment banking organizations, for instance, only recruit students from schools where the company has a legacy, according to Cohen.
“That is not to say that the barriers to entry are insurmountable,” Cohen says. “No matter where you may be enrolled, a couple of great internships will demonstrate a commitment and focus to pursuing a specific career direction and to success in competing for those internships in a tough market.”
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About the Author: Ritika Trikha is passionate about scoping out top-notch job advice in the career-sphere to help you find a job you love. Ritika has 99 problems but an unhappy career isn’t one! She’s a writer and an optimist (and Jay Z’s No. 1 fan). When Ritika’s not writing stellar advice articles, she’s obsessing over social media. Connect with her via CareerBliss Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+! And follow Ritika on Twitter!