In IT, Skills Mean Far More Than a Degree

By September 26, 2014 No Comments

By: Maurice Gilbert

CS engineerWhat’s the value of an education at a prestigious university?  According to a recent study by Robert Half Technology, it’s not as great as we previously might have thought.

This survey, which polled 270 Chief Information Officers, revealed that more than half (51 percent) place greater weight on an applicant’s skills and experience than his or her college education when assessing candidates.  A mere 10 percent reported being swayed by the prestige of the applicant’s alma mater.

The participants were asked, “When evaluating a candidate for an IT position, what value do you place on the prestige of their college or university?”  Here is the breakdown of their responses:

•  51 percent – I place more weight on skills and experience than college or university education
•  32 percent – I place a little weight on university prestige
•  10 percent – I place a lot of weight on university prestige
•  6 percent – University prestige doesn’t matter to me

The same may not hold true in other fields – law and medicine in particular – where advanced degrees are requisite, but the findings are eye-opening, nonetheless.  It’s been common practice in years past for employers to set degree requirements for all roles, from entry-level positions to management roles, when the actual need for the candidate to hold a particular degree is debatable.

In IT at least – and perhaps many other fields, as well – it’s prudent to reconsider just how important it is for our talent to hold that slip of paper.  If they’ve got desirable skills and experience and can apply them to the benefit of your organization, what’s the degree worth, really?


Maurice GilbertMaurice Gilbert is Managing Partner of Conselium Executive Search, which specializes in placing Compliance Officers and Legal Counsel for clients in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and Asia Pacific.  Maurice is also CEO of Corporate Compliance Insights, a worldwide publication devoted to governance, risk and compliance issues. Maurice can be reached at maurice@conselium.com or maurice@corporatecomplianceinsights.com.

Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.  

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