It’s what you know, not where you learned it, that’s important. At least to employers evaluating job candidates.
A recent Gallup poll of 623 U.S. businesses conducted on behalf of the Lumina Foundation found that eighty-four percent of leaders from a cross-section of U.S. businesses rated “the amount of knowledge the candidate has in the field” as very important. Only nine percent ranked where the candidate received his or her degree as very important, and 28 percent thought a candidate’s college major was a top factor.
“This isn’t entirely surprising,” says Roxanne Reddick, director of graduate student and career services for the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “Employers need candidates who are poised to hit the ground running.”
The Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation – which defines itself as “committed to enrolling and graduating more students from college” – doesn’t interpret these results to mean a college degree isn’t vital to career success.
“College degrees and other credentials are more important than ever,” says Jamie Merisotis, Lumina Foundation president.
Indeed, the Lumina report stresses that skills needed by businesses are changing faster than ever, and continued, targeted learning is needed to advance on the career ladder.
Given that firms look for certain skills, it’s key for job seekers to convey all their current expertise.
“Create a list of the major skill sets you possess that are relevant to the job your are seeking,” Reddick says. “Then, begin listing accomplishments in those areas. You can use this list to ensure that your online presence, your 30-second pitch, your resume and your interview answers all speak to what you can do and how that relates to the job at hand.”
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