This may come across as controversial, but when it comes to hiring people for our company I don’t care if they have a degree or not.

Granted, I’m a little biased, as I’m a college drop out who didn’t have interest in pursuing higher education. For me, a Bachelors in Arts or Science was not standing between my dreams of entrepreneurship.

Education is important and valuable, however, I find most of the skills we’ve hired people for did not come from their school experience. People in our company have confessed to me they learned more on the job than they ever did in college.

I’ve also found the employees who fit the best with our company also have personal skills, honesty, integrity, ambition, and passion, all items you traditionally learn outside of classic education.

Is education important? Sure, but it’s not going to be the ultimate decision maker when it comes to whether I hire someone or not. Instead, I want to discuss what other items an employer should look for in a potential employee.

Don’t only hire for a degree

Resumes can be tricky things, and going only off of impressive accolades or education can be a bad decision.

Any time we’ve hired someone just based on skills or experience, it doesn’t go well. We fell in love with their resume and failed to look if they had the actual skills our team needed.

I’ll take someone with little to no formal education if they have the ability to learn their new job responsibilities. I want people who pursue their passions and are willing to embrace change. Having those skills will always trump a degree from Harvard or Yale.

Having a degree from a prestigious university doesn’t mean you’ve got the right personality or skills to do your job. If you want to be apart of the BNG brand you’ve got to have our core values and a drive to be the best you can be. A degree is an afterthought, your attitude, ability to learn, and technical skills are far more important.

Now certainly there are some professions that require a high amount of training through school courses. Doctors and Lawyers are certainly amongst those professions. But even they have to spend time out of school shadowing other professionals. Business owners need to see past a resume and look at the person in front of them.

Sometimes even if a person hasn’t done work for a specific industry, they might have fundamental skills such as problem-solving, a good work ethic, or show the talent to grow into a position.

You can’t learn everything in school

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, student loan debt has reached $1.2 trillion. I find it sad how many young people are spending thousands of dollars for a degree only to graduate and not feel prepared to join the workforce.

College is supposed to prepare you for your future career, so why do so many schools seem to lack courses that teach practical skills for people entering their chosen field.

For many industries, you learn on the job instead of at college. The payment processing and technology industry is definitely like that. Most of the programmers and technicians we have on staff were either trained in-house or on their own. These positions tend to have some basic courses in colleges, however, in practice the majority of our team has learned the most on the job.

Aside from technical skills, there are certain interpersonal skills that college doesn’t prepare someone for, specifically, the day-to-day realities of work.

Deadlines for projects are certainly something you will face in school or work, as well as developing critical thinking skills. However, tests don’t help you in terms of making you better at your job. When you’re working, you won’t have to spend months studying for one test you’ll either pass or fail. You’ll have a job to complete every day, and if you don’t know how to do it you’ll have to figure it out on the spot.

Customer service skills are also critical. Everyone has had a bad professor experience, but when you deal with a difficult customer you still have to find a way to make them happy. Developing your communication skills to deal with other employees is also important. A co-worker or manager you clash with is still someone you’ll have to deal with, and you can’t develop patience and problem-solving in school quite like you can on the job.

People can grow into their roles

Typically when you’re a smaller business or even a medium business you will hire people who will grow with your business.

Sometimes you’ll need to outsource a certain position in leadership to someone from outside your company, but often times we overlook the people who have worked in the trenches with you from the beginning.

You can hire someone with an impressive degree but who has no leadership skills, or who doesn’t fit with your team, but that doesn’t mean they will run a department well. You can’t expect your employees to follow someone they can’t communicate with simply because they have the education.

Being knowledgeable in a certain subject doesn’t automatically make someone fit to lead, and a lot of leadership can only be learned through failure and experience. There are many people on our team who joined us early on who didn’t have the experience or the skills at the time to be a department leader, but they had something more important; ambition and passion.

They all knew they needed to grow and develop their skills to be in a position of leadership. All of them grew so much and challenged themselves, additionally, they took on extra responsibilities. When the time came a few years later that there was a position open, they were ready to lead.

They took the time and the difficult path of challenging themselves to be suited for leadership.

We could have hired someone from the outside with a fancier degree or a higher experience, but they were the most qualified when it came to leading their team.

Final thoughts

I’ll be the first to admit that in past we made some mistakes when it came to hiring people. We fell in love with the impressive resume and failed to take into account how well they would work in our company.

We believed we needed someone with all the bells and whistles and failed to take their personality and work ethic into account.

Remember to consider every part of the person you’re hiring to make sure they have the technical and interpersonal skills you need.

Thank you so much for reading my thoughts on why a person is more than a degree. I look forward to your thoughts and feedback.

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