Credentials, What Are They Good For?

One of the items that popped up in my feed this week was the news that Google no longer requires job candidates to possess a four-year degree.

Further discussion among friends and acquaintances in the tech sector pointed out that this isn’t an earth shaking development. It’s been the case for decades that tech companies, even IBM will waive the need for academic credentials when they encounter a candidate with phenomenal skills and talents.

That’s the catch that doesn’t quite come through in the article I linked: in order for those other employers to make an exception, the candidate has to be exceptional.

That got me thinking about credentials, skills, and what can sometimes be a vast delta between the two.

I think we all have stories to tell about people we’ve worked with who had impressive credentials and yet who, as one of my old coaches would say “Couldn’t find their backside with four hands.”

Frustrated, one old boss of mine declared that he was no longer going to consider the credentials, certifications, or experience of candidates when hiring AV/IT installers, he was going to put them in a room with a boxed piece of IKEA furniture and observe the process they undertake to try and unbox and assemble it. As he put it:

“If they can do that on their own without messing anything up I can teach them what they need to do the job.”

He was probably more right than wrong there.