18 Additional Answers
(President, SBA * Consulting LTD)
I taught accounting at the City University of New York campus for ten years. The college was not a top-flight school (more like a bottom-flight).
I had exceptional students, average students and below-average students irregardless of whether they would have attended an Ivy league school or not.
I'll re-quote Bob's last paragraph, because he sums it up very nicely:
'A qualified to be hired job applicant who is also well-suited to the job is a better person to hire than an Ivy League graduate who is not well-suited to do the job. Low and behold mother nature is not so cruel as to limit good employees to graduates of the best schools.'
We have to stop being elitist.
(President, Bellwind Consultants)
Schools shouldn't matter but they still do to many people. However, the reality of success may surprise everyone. Ivy League schools did not sweep the top spots and look at the School of Hard Knocks ranking.
Last May 13, Bloomberg, in an article by James Ellis, published the top 10 alma maters of the most prestigious CEO’s in the country. T
1. University of California (12 CEOs), CEO graduate: William Johnson, H.J. Heinz
2. School of Hard Knocks (12 CEOs), CEO graduate: Steve Jobs, Apple
3. Harvard College (11 CEOs), CEO graduate: Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
4. University of Missouri (11 CEOs), CEO graduate: David Novak, Yum! Brands
5. University of Texas (11 CEOs), CEO graduate: Gary Kelly, Southwest Airlines
6. University of Wisconsin (11 CEOs), CEO graduate: Carol Bartz, Yahoo!
7. Dartmouth College (10 CEOs), CEO graduate: Enrique Salem, Symantec
8. Princeton (9 CEOs), CEO graduate: Andrea Jung, Avon Products
9. Indiana University (8 CEOs), CEO graduate: Donald Knauss, Clorox
10. Purdue University (8 CEOs), CEO graduate: Gregory Wasson, Walgreen
(Owner/Employee, Talent Blueprint)
I don't agree that the school you chose to attend makes any difference to your employer and more importantly to your success. Attending school today and in the future is going to be very much like making a business decision where the attendee will ask themselves what the ROI is on making an investment in education.
Google, 'Doe College Pay Off, Bloomber News, ' it's an interesting article.
We've been led to believe that getting an education is very important and worthwhile, the exact is opposite. There is over 50 years of data to substantiate what I'm saying.
(Owner, Gately Consulting)
John, the phrase 'we hire the best and the brightest from the best schools' always come to mind whenever I read about alma maters as job success predictors.
How many graduate are there from the best schools every year?
How many graduates from the best schools are the best and the brightest?
How many job openings are there in the US every year for new college graduates?
If there are not enough best and brightest graduates from the best schools, then employers will have to settle for less than the best and the brightest from the best schools. That is the bad news.
The good new is that new employees need to be competent, not the most competent nor the best educated nor even have the highest IQs, and should be well-suited to do the job.
A qualified to be hired job applicant who is also well-suited to the job is a better person to hire than an Ivy League graduate who is not well-suited to do the job. Low and behold mother nature is not so cruel as to limit good employees to graduates of the best schools.
(Owner, Gately Consulting)
Years ago I met with a Human Resources person at a well known international technology company (25,000+ employees worldwide) and we discussed their hiring process. I was astounded to learn that for sales positions they hire former college football players because 'they are used to running into brick walls.' This approach is not anymore ineffective than hiring for alma maters. The HR Rep told me she agreed it didn't make sense but she would not argue with the Sales VP since he says, 'we are successful in sales because we have $3 billion in cash.' Well, it is not up to me to fix their process so I said thank you and left. A month later my nephew who works at the company called and said his company needs my services since only 30% of the sales force meets their quota. Success means different things to different people.
(Community Manager, ShesConnected.com)
As a recruiter for 10 years, the college of attendance makes a difference mostly for engineering positions. There are a lot of job seekers out there...with websites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder, you can actually search for candidates according to degree and school. Some corporations with request certain schools as a way to cut through a lot of the clutter. But as candidate pools dwindle, schools make less of an impact.
(Owner, Gately Consulting)
I agree with John. My brother the CPA and business owner told me he preferred to hire accountants from Bentley and Northeastern University rather than Ivy League schools because he did not have to train them how to work in an office. When we study successful employees we find that their Alma Mater is far less important than who they are as people. Successful employees come from all colleges as John points out. Identifying future successful employees is not hard to do but if you don't know how to do it, you'll need to ask.
when looking at education, what matters the most is the 'credibility' of the institution that provided the education. In other words, behind Ivy League, there are a number of very valid other universities, and there are some programs instead (at least in Europe) that one would not know how to consider for lack of proper benchmarking parametres.
That being said, (again this is the epxerience in Europe), some unverstities and faculties are having a history long experience/ R&D/ research and development in specific disciplines and not others, therefore one would expect that one having attended the specific faculty, has gained more exposure/experience or more advanced or modern view on given disciplines than he/she would have by attending the same program in other faculty.
different discussion, perhaps I did not express myself properly. what I meant to say is that naturally as en employer you will tend to feel more confortable in your selection process when skimming through paper CVs when selecting profiles originating from 'known' schools, with all other criteria equivalent. In southern Europe for isntance, some universtities are 'specialized' in a given field more than others, therefore you will tend to prefer profiles carrying that specific background. Now that does not constitute a judgement though, and certainly not a truth either. I personally come from a totally unknown school, and this certainly was never an issue in my development. I personally hardly ever even look at education, simply because I am hiring senior manageres with a given track record of experience. Had I to recruit younger profiles, then perhaps I would have to find my own judgement criteria on the relevancy/ importance of the education. you will agree that the education background required for an engineer and a lawyer are really not quite the same.
Indeed couldn't agree more with bob Wayne and Bob. The question of Lauren thoughtis unfortunately still valid. When you're skimming on paper, and need to make a selection based on paper only, and are looking to hire young graduates with little working experience yet, is education a criteria? most often than not yes. whether this is a right or wrong criteria is arguable, but the reality is still that as recruiter with a pile of paper CVs in front of you, you still have to make a call based on the only elements you have.
Having sat on committees and involved in hiring individuals over a number of years, I have found that hiring the right person absolutely trumps anything else including experience. The big questions are: 'Does this person have the enthusiasm for the job?' 'Does he or she have the willingness to learn?' Once we hired a man who had all the right credentials (we used a grid to outline our job needs), two PhD's and presented strongly in the interview. He performed poorly in the job because he really didn't want to be there. I am not sure what he wanted, but that job was not it. Age,variety of job experience,interest can all be valuable assets.
The problem is mostly with the Recruitment Staff not knowing how to evaluate a person so they revert to the school and with a big name school they feel that they have the best candidate. I agree with most of the commentary that the school in many ways does not matter it is what the candidate has done with his / hers education what matters.
(Owner, Gately Consulting)
Gail, schools matter because 'we all know that' the smartest people go to the best schools and 'we all know that' the smartest people make the best employees therefore 'we all know that' the best employees graduate from the best schools. It isn't true but it does take the work out of the employee selection process. Hiring the best and the brightest from the best schools never gets any recruiter or hiring manager into trouble even when new hires go down in flames because as 'as we all know' new hires are to blame not the hiring managers. My clients know they are responsible when new hires fail to perform which is why they are so selective in who they hire.
(President, Digital Innovations Group)
Just had this discussion this morning. I think that there is an awful lot of 'real world' hiring going on based on which school you attended and it isn't necessarily from the best schools but rather from the schools the hiring manager attended. Unfortunately, many who do the hiring are strapped for time or lazy and it's easier to say that you've given the job to the Harvard guy rather than argue for the middle-of-the-road state school candidate who seems to have more potential. There is a significant lack of professional courage out there so it appears to be easier to go with the less controversial decision. If the candidate fails it's seems to be a whole lot more explainable to others to be able to say 'He was from Harvard, who would have thought he couldn't do the job?' It's probably more difficult to say something like I hired him because he was a Golden Gopher, Terp or Wildcat like me and wow, I'm so surprised he didn't cut it.'
The reality is that it probably does help in certain cases to have gone to a top school or the school that the hiring manager happened to go to. If you didn't you might have to work a bit harder to get that first position but after that it's going to be about your performance on the job. After getting my first position, no one has asked me about my GPA since and I worked pretty darn hard for it at a better than average school but certainly not Ivy League.
I think the bigger question on everybody's mind is if I pay the extra for the top school is that advantage worth the extra money? My guess is no unless you are in a field where the educational resource is scarce - so the best schools for your scarce disciple. English from Harvard probably not, biomedical engineering from MIT, maybe.
(Owner, Gately Consulting)
If I'm not mistaken the MIT Freshman class is in the top 3% of high school students who take the SAT. If we want the highest IQ employees, hire from MIT and other such schools. It is a good thing that most all jobs don't require such mental horse power
'I think that there is an awful lot of 'real world' hiring going on based on which school you attended and it isn't necessarily from the best schools but rather from the schools the hiring manager attended.'
We should not be surprised since 'as we all know that' it is 'who we know not what we know that' gets us hired.
'Unfortunately, many who do the hiring are strapped for time or lazy and it's easier to say that you've given the job to the Harvard guy rather than argue for the middle-of-the-road state school candidate who seems to have more potential.'
The problem resides with the corporate executives that never bother to ask 'how do so many underperforms get hired?' or 'why do we lose so many new employees within the first year or two?' The answers lie in the employee screening process. Managers can't beheld accountable for not using something they don't know exists.
'There is a significant lack of professional courage out there so it appears to be easier to go with the less controversial decision.'
I agree 100%.
If an assembly line failed as often as does the hiring process we would have to shut the assembly down for redesign.
'If the candidate fails it's seems to be a whole lot more explainable to others to be able to say 'He was from Harvard, who would have thought he couldn't do the job?'
That is so true and no one, I mean no one, ever asks HR and the hiring manager 'how could you hire such a poor performer?'
'It's probably more difficult to say something like I hired him because he was a Golden Gopher, Terp or Wildcat like me and wow, I'm so surprised he didn't cut it.'
Hiring managers should never be surprised by a new hire cutting it or not cutting--they should know.
'The reality is that it probably does help in certain cases to have gone to a top school or the school that the hiring manager happened to go to.'
I agree but it doesn't predict job success.
'If you didn't you might have to work a bit harder to get that first position but after that it's going to be about your performance on the job.'
All hiring decisions should be about performance on the job.
'After getting my first position, no one has asked me about my GPA since and I worked pretty darn hard for it at a better than average school but certainly not Ivy League.'
(Owner, Gately Consulting)
'I think the bigger question on everybody's mind is if I pay the extra for the top school is that advantage worth the extra money?'
If you mean the very top schools, probably yes since their graduates prefer to hire and/or help their schools' graduates.
'My guess is no unless you are in a field where the educational resource is scarce - so the best schools for your scarce disciple. English from Harvard probably not, biomedical engineering from MIT, maybe.'
The HR Manager for a software development company hired for talent for over two years and then stopped for two years because the two owners thought they could do a better job of selecting successful Technical Support Analysts (TSA) than Sonja, their HR Manager. TSAs go to the client's workplace and identify the programming errors and then reprogram the software.
The owners felt too restricted by the talent selection process. After two years of doing it themselves they went to Sonja's office and told her 'Start using the your talent method again, you are much more successful at hiring good TSAs than we are.' The owners could not duplicate her success rate, not bad for just a HR Manager. Sonja took a risk when she first tried the talent selection process.
Employers over rely on face-to-face interviews and qualifications. The goal should be to hire competent people, not necessarily the most competent, who will become successful employees. The best I can tell a resume never actually does any work.
Kathleen Pabst Robshaw
(Founder/Owner, Spectrum Strategy Resources LLC)
I have not had it influence me but in other roles I have heard phrases like xyz University is known for top level accountants,for example, so in this case yes it does sway who you interview. Think it relates to professionals such as accounting, legal, etc.
It is a shame if it does - seems as if you just cannot get it right these days!
(Owner, Gately Consulting)
A manufacturing company CEO, a client, called me because he was concerned about hiring a CFO candidate that his entire management team wanted to hire, including himself. The candidate scored 6 on Mental Abilities and the CEO was very concerned that he had scored so low; there are ten scores from 1 to 10. A 6 means the candidate scored higher than 50% of the working population but lower than 31% of the working population. After discussing the duties of a CFO he began to laugh. I asked 'what was so funny?' and he said, 'My entire management team are sixes, including myself.' Employers do not need the best and brightest to be successful.