The Diploma Fetish Keeping Culture in the Dark Ages
Qualifications are sometimes a necessity. I would hope that my heart surgeon has completed medical school, and I would certainly hope that my solicitor has the appropriate knowledge to help him make sense of all the legal jargon that appears to be a foreign language to me.
The fact is, there are just some professions that need academic training and long periods of study; without them, we would not have the medical advances we have today or the technology I’m using right now.
But for other roles and careers, a qualification isn’t always necessary. Yet increasingly companies are demanding qualifications and certifications as a minimum entry requirement when advertising for job roles. Even when holding particular certifications for a set period of time isn’t even possible.
Let’s not forget the embarrassing job ad which went viral on LinkedIn where a company required 10 years minimum experience for a technology that had only been alive for 4!
Now I will hold my hands up. I’m biased when it comes to recruitment because I don’t believe that a person’s qualification is the sum of all their parts.
I didn’t go to University, I was too eager to get working. I wanted to start feeling like an adult, get my feet under the table and learn on the job (much to the disappointment of my college lecturer). Without a doubt, this was influenced by my upbringing, two parents who ran their own businesses and did so without needing a degree.
To me having a qualification without experience, is like reading the theory test to driving, but never getting in the car. Until you’ve got behind the wheel, scratched it, bumped it, and broken down, you can’t really have a deep understanding of what it takes to fulfil the role.
And that’s why to me, it is deeply disappointing that so many companies still insist on being degree and qualification-led when it comes to their recruitment.
Now I’m certainly not saying that degrees and qualifications should never be considered. What I am saying is that we need to stop being so limited in our views about talent.
Whenever I was recruiting people in my previous roles, or even now with my team at Liberty Mind, I care more about who they are as a person, and what their passions are than what they’ve managed to ace in the classroom.
What we learn today could be useless tomorrow
One of my many frustrations about leaning too heavily on qualifications is that much of the knowledge imparted on these courses can quickly become out of date.
We now live in a fast-paced world where things change suddenly. And what you could learn as best practice last year, may be obsolete in the next two.
The education system is notorious for being behind. If that’s news to you, I’m sorry.
While I believe that education can give you a good grounding in a subject, I don’t believe that it can set you up for a lifetime in the field.
To me, a continued exploration of the topic, and consistent self-development is what we should really be striving towards.
There are some skills you can’t teach
It may scare you to think that in the next ten years we are going to see more artificial intelligence and more automation but it’s the way the world is going. And the same goes for the roles we will be filling.
Human skills will be the ones that you will be desperately seeking. Human skills are teachable, but again, nothing quite beats experience.
Resilience, creativity, empathy, curiosity. The skills we so easily dismiss will be the ones we’re all fighting for.
The way I see companies recruiting right now, is as if they are hiring clones for the people they already have in the business. It feels safe to them to have the same people doing the same jobs, with the same qualifications over and over again.
But then change happens, and it doesn’t work anymore.
If businesses want to be more agile and resilient, they need to start changing and adapting the way they recruit.
We need to stop with the box ticking, and start thinking about the ‘person’ you want to hire. Outside of the qualifications, what are they going to contribute to the company?
If you don’t think we have a diploma fetish, ask yourself why so many people still feel it’s necessary to lie about their qualifications on their CV?