The surprising part of a resume you might want to ignore

by Human Capital12 Mar 2014
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 said. “If they can do the job, that’s what matters to me.”

“Technical skills can be taught,” said 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 organisations, less than half of business leaders pay attention to that factor.


  • by J Gould 12/03/2014 5:45:21 PM

    Some very successful business men today did in fact have limited beginnings and didn’t necessarily start with any relevant experience or a degree. However, times have changed. Today Job applications are primarily submitted online- so how can candidates be assessed on personality alone? All you have is their resume submitted on line to assess them by. Yes, maybe their personality can be expressed through their cover letter but we mainly the focus on the resume. My question is- how can a candidate move to the interview stage where they can express their personality, when on paper they have no degree or no experience?

  • by Deborah Pearson 13/03/2014 12:01:11 PM

    In my experience I have found that many candidates who do not have degrees almost possess a mindset of trying to make up for that gap. They are more business savvy and work harder to prove themselves. Young candidates fresh out of university can sometimes demonstrate a sense of entitlement, "I have a university degree therefore I am amazing and you should hire me". Sadly, this is rarely the truth. It would be nice to see universities prepare students for the real world instead of release them into the market chock-full of knowledge about how to analyse a business case. How about teaching them real, transferable skills they can use immediately in a business environment? That, in itself, would make them more employable.

  • by Sharyn Smith 13/03/2014 6:24:38 PM

    Both interesting comments and both have merit, I loved this article, if the candidate with the experience of working their way up through the ranks can articulate their experience in a tangible way, and can show they have the experience, skills and knowledge to do the job on their CV, they would most certainly get through to interview stage without a Degree, and rightly so. That is why it is so improtant to have both the CV review and the interview process to cross off or add on what you dont get from each component and ultimately hire the "best person" for the role. Experience has shown me individuals can have the theoretical knowledge and not know what to do with it when faced with certain situations and conversely I have seen individuals sell themselves so well at interview but sadly dissapoint once hired. What a challenging and exciting job we have in Human Resources.

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