For most of the modern world, college degrees have always acted as proof of expertise. This makes sense in many ways. For example, when hiring technical talents, such as software or web development engineer. Most talent acquisition strategies will require a college degree in addition to demonstrable experience, references, and sometimes even more. However, for the ultimate tech top-dogs, such as Google, college degrees are no longer a hard requirement. Given the success of such companies is something almost every business wants to emulate. It may prove worthwhile to examine why giants like Google no longer assign as much value to college degrees.
Not Having a College Degree is Not A Deal-Breaker At Google
Companies like Google have consistently attracted the brightest minds and skilled talent worldwide, including many college graduates. Individuals hold many key positions with a conventionally perfect academic history, such as an Ivy League university and the ideal GPA score. These are often awe-inspiring resume points that many recruiters look for.
But Google understands that a college degree does not necessarily guarantee competence. The company can’t afford to miss out on top-tier talent only for lack of a formal educational degree. So, while Google isn’t hostile towards college graduates, it no longer cares what college you went to. It does not care if you went to college at all, as a significant percentage of Google’s workforce can tell you. But why this shift away from requiring formal degrees and education?. This may be the result of several factors, including:
A Degree Does Not Guarantee Expertise
The classical view of education is that a college degree is essentially a certificate signifying competence and expertise in a given field. A degree in, say, engineering tacitly implies a person holding the degree is a certified engineer. Thus possesses all the skills and expertise needed to fit an appropriate role.
However, this can often prove to be a leap of faith, as many employers who have made bad hires can tell you. A college degree in itself is little more than an official-looking document if the holder doesn’t have the necessary skills to go along with it. The credibility of an employee does not depend as much on their degree or university but their expertise. A degree in itself can never be accurate about the skill-level, expertise, and other valuable skills a candidate might have. In other words, Google no longer exclusively recruits from top universities like MIT, Stanford, or Harvard. Instead, it broadens its recruitment efforts to onboard top-quality talent without discriminating based on a degree or diploma.
Assigning Greater Value to Un coachable Soft Skills
Of course, since Google does not assign as much value to a college certification, it shifts that value to other areas. Specifically, hard-to-learn or intuitive skills may be near-impossible or too challenging to teach to a typical worker. Over recent years, Google has stopped paying attention to grades, “brainteasing” interview questions, and other metrics used to value heavily. What Google does value is soft-skills that a candidate can demonstrate right from the interview stage, such as:
- Proving high cognitive functioning by tackling small projects.
- Demonstrating determination and grit.
- Adaptability and innovation in approaching specific problems.
- Offering leadership ability and potential.
- Overall cultural fit with the larger Google workforce and work culture.
Changing Hiring Trends in Tech
The idea of degrees not mattering is counter-intuitive to nearly everyone seeking a job or a new employer. After all, most of us have grown up believing college education opens the doors to better-paying jobs and more prestigious roles. And this may have even been true for several decades before college education became heavily saturated. Many employers would not even consider a candidate without a college degree for critical roles. However, tech companies quickly realize that a college degree is not a reliable estimate or representation of a candidate’s real-world ability and skill. The larger players are already expanding the scope of their talent acquisition.
Many of the world’s most iconic tech entrepreneurs, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, famously dropped out of a degree to pursue business. Of course, Zuckerberg later went back to Harvard to complete his degree. But way after the global success of Facebook and its acquisitions. On paper, for a conventional employer, neither may have looked like hiring material. And many of those employers are now dwarfed by the tech empires. These individuals are carved out based on their skills and attributes instead of a formal college degree. This in itself may be a contributing factor to why the largest tech companies look for much more than an educational certification.
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