Degree Required







I am currently working on formatting a large number of job descriptions as we implement a new Applicant Tracking System, and I’ve been noticing how the vast majority say that a degree is REQUIRED. But I wonder why? I mean, if these were physician job decsriptions, I could understand how a degree would be required. I mean, that could be a matter of life and death! But it takes a degree to learn to write computer code, or to sell a product, or to answer phones? Really?

Why not just look for the best person? Someone who is sharp, bright, with a strong work ethic, who makes good decisions? Let me ask it this way, if you needed to hire someone to be your COO, you would no doubt want someone who has all of the skills I mentioned above and a track record to prove it. People like:

  • Amadeo Peter Giannini – founder of Bank of America
  • Andrew Jackson – former President of the United States and attorney
  • Red McCombs – founder of Clear Channel media
  • Charles Culpepper – owner and CEO of Coca-Cola
  • Dave Thomas – founder of Wendy’s
  • David Neeleman – founder of Jet Blue
  • Dustin Moskovitz – co-founder of Facebook
  • Hyman Golden – co-founder of Snapple
  • John Mackey – founder of Whole Foods
  • Kevin Rose – founder of
  • Larry Ellison – founder of Oracle
  • Michael Dell – founder of Dell Computers
  • Ray Kroc – founder of McDonald’s
  • Steve Wozniak – co-founder of Apple
  • Ross Perot – founder of Perot Systems and former candidate for the President of the United States

What do they have in common? Aside from being billionaires, well-respected for the business prowess, and great success – none have a college degree. As a matter of fact, many of them dropped out of high school. And this isn’t a complete list – there are MANY others!

So, if you had the chance to hire one of them to be your COO, or to hire someone with a degree, which would you choose?

I understand that there are a few positions out there that would require a degree, and it’s okay to prefer a degree, but the lack of degree should not knock out someone from an automated screening process when they apply for a position. Look at the totality of the candidate, not if they have a piece of paper nicely framed to hang on the wall in their office, or cubicle.


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