June 14, 2021

Many companies lament about a shortage of talent, but more often than not, it is due to shortsightedness. Instead of looking out for real potential, they form an unhealthy fixation with an applicant’s pedigree. Traditionally, being an Ivy League graduate does get your foot in the door, but employers are shifting their hiring approach. Google values intellectual humility and skills above credentials, while Elon Musk looks for “exceptional ability.” He once said, “There is no need to even have a college degree. If you look at people like Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, or Steve Jobs, these guys didn’t graduate from college.” With the pandemic changing the future of work, here are five reasons why we need to focus on a person’s skill and attitude, and make hiring less about a college education.

Undiscovered Talent

Rejecting a potential candidate simply because he or she did not come from an Ivy League school may isolate your chances of finding someone who could be great for the role. Instead, applicants who have the relevant skills and experience can be a beneficial asset because of their expertise. When hiring, it is also important to bring on board individuals who are passionate and enthusiastic, or have a willingness to learn. Don’t write off candidates without setting up an initial call to get a better sense of the person. The ability to problem-solve, think outside of the box and grit are measures of a person’s mental prowess too. 

Pedigree Does Not Guarantee Performance

Having a degree from Harvard does not equal performance. Being book smart doesn’t mean the person has high EQ or is a critical thinker. Success in the professional world requires more than just having a lot of knowledge. Several other factors come into play as well like being a team player and the ability to communicate and manage people. Ultimately, the road to success is long and never straightforward. A non-Ivy League graduate may be less complacent and hungrier to prove themselves. If they are willing to work twice as hard for less pay, financially, it makes more sense to hire diamonds in the rough. As Vince Lombardi puts it, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather in a lack of will.”

Personality and Ability

Learning doesn’t stop when we leave the classroom. Skills can be acquired along the way, so what then matters is a person’s drive and mindset to learn, grow and evolve. In an era of uncertainty, where job security is at risk, those who adapt the fastest to change will be in demand. Major companies like Apple are focusing less on traditional degrees and more on personality. Passion is a key trait that Apple wants in its employees. A recruiting manager said that they value “a magnetic personality” as much as someone who’s proficient. Also, they much prefer someone who will be able to defend their ideas instead of a yes-man with no conviction. In fact, the skills necessary today may no longer be relevant a year later. Hence, when you screen future hires, look for capabilities and personality traits that will enable the organisation to thrive in this rapidly changing workplace.

Attitude Outweighs Grades

Hire someone who is the best fit for the company culture. If he or she doesn’t share the same company’s values, that could be detrimental to the organisation’s success in the long run. According to statistics, 89 per cent of employees who do not last in a firm are usually asked to leave because of attitude issues or a lack of emotional intelligence. In fact, only 11 per cent of these new hires fail due to technical ineptitude. Companies like Zappos hire based on culture fit. And one of their key beliefs is to “create fun and a little weirdness,” which speaks to those who are unconventional and quirky.

More Diversity 

There are many merits of having a diverse organisation. For one, diversity can yield better performance and greater innovation. McKinsey concluded that the more diverse the company, the greater the profits. Too many like-minded people with the same backgrounds can lead to an insular way of thinking that is devoid of divergent perspectives. In short, having diversity results in more creativity and productivity overall, which will inevitably attract more talent.