December 12, 2019
Hiring 17 July 2017
Don’t Judge a Diploma When Evaluating Candidates
Hannah Son
employers, candidates, diploma, communication, management, evaluate, degree, skills

Step 1: Go to college. Step 2: Get a degree. Step 3: Await dream job. 

This fallacious belief is a false reality, a source of many social pathologies and lost opportunities. Just because this is what your high school counselor told you to do, does not mean it is the equation for success. Don’t Judge a Diploma When Evaluating Candidates 

New grads often believe the anecdotes fed to them by past generations that their diplomas are their tickets to employment. Although it is right in some cases, now more than ever, employers are focused on skills rather than degrees. Sorry, but it’s time to burst your bubble, your diploma shouldn’t and doesn’t equate to success. More and more, employers are going to want to see proof that their candidates or employees have actually gained the particular skills needed to succeed. And although academic qualifications are still being taken into account and remain as an important consideration when assessing candidates, they no longer hinder you from getting a foot in the door. 

Credentials are worthless unless they have the backbone to support them. According to a recent study by ZipRecruiter “Just 21 percent of the jobs posted on its website specifically ask that candidates have a college degree. This is about on par with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' estimation that 33 percent of U.S. jobs require a college degree.” 

Statistics like these show that across the board, work experience, relevant skills, and training are preferred over a diploma. Even recent graduates have found that skills are far more valuable to their careers than their diplomas. In a Glassdoor survey, nearly three-quarters of employees said: “Employers value work experience and related skills more than education when evaluating job candidates, with 53 percent saying a graduate degree is no longer necessary to secure a high-paying job.” 

There's no question that higher education still factors into career success, as 82 percent of Glassdoor respondents said, “college diplomas have helped them in the workplace. But job seekers need to realize that there's more to landing a job and advancing their careers than holding a degree.” So what skills do today's employers actually want to see their candidates and employees possess? 

  1. Communication 

  2. Time management

  3. Team working skills

  4. Motivation

Many businesses are implementing these strategies that favor skills over diplomas and big companies like Google and Ernest & Young (EY) are paving the way. Google and EY are just two examples of companies that have realized that a diploma doesn’t necessarily equal talent. According to Glassdoor reviews, here are some insights into the top companies who forego a diploma when evaluating candidates. 

1. Google

Company Rating: 4.4

What Employees Say: “There a huge diversity of work ranging from defending independent journalism worldwide (Google Project Shield) to crisis response during disasters (see Maps during Hurricane Sandy or Tsunamis), to the best machine learning experts and projects in the world, to more mundane revenue-driving projects in advertising, there’s really something for everybody.” —Current Software Engineer II 

2. Ernst and Young (EY)

Company Rating: 3.8

What Employees Say: “The people, the flexibility, and many great assignments. This is a place that really takes care of its people and is regularly reaching out to understand what would make a better experience for us.” —Current Employee 

3. Costco Wholesale

Company Rating: 4.0

What Employees Say: “Very affordable high-quality health insurance benefits even for PT employees. Great for working parents who split up child care and need coverage. The key to succeeding at Costco is to work hard, have a good attitude and be nice to people. It’s hard work and fast paced, you have to be down for that to succeed.” —Current Cashier Assistant 

4. Apple

Company Rating: 4.0

What Employees Say: “The company is AMAZING. There are limitless advancement opportunities. You work with some very cool people and the leadership cares about your development. You may get coaching but you never get battered or belittled. The pay is decent and the benefits include, 401(k) match, stock purchase options, product discounts and discounts on services across many different areas, education assistance, child care assistance, paid vacation, sick time and other time off options, health club Reimbursement or bike cost set off. You get 1.5 times for OT and it’s pretty much unlimited as long as you don’t exceed 12 hours in a day or 59 total in a week.” —Current At-Home Advisor 

Whether you have your college degree or are charting your own path beyond the traditional four-year college route, it is most important to have the applicable skills and not just a diploma. Employers all over the world in companies both large and small are quickly adapting their evaluation processes to reflect this changing school of thought. So, learn new skills and apply yourself to being more than just a diploma.