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Employers Value Skills Over Majors, Fancy Colleges


A recent Gallup survey found that business leaders rate job candidates’ applied skills and knowledge higher than where they went to school or even which major they concentrated in.


(Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr)

In fact, only 9 percent said that where candidates went to school was “very important,” while 37 percent said it was “somewhat important,” and 40 percent said it was “not very important.” Fourteen percent of business leaders didn’t care at all where candidates went to school.

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College major received similar votes from business leaders: 28 percent said “very important,” 42 percent said “somewhat important,” 22 percent said “not very important,” and 8 percent said “not important at all.”

For contrast, 84 percent of participants rated knowledge in the field as “very important,” and 79 percent said the same for applied skills in the field. Zero percent of those surveyed said knowledge in the field was “not important at all,” and only 2 percent said that applied skills didn’t matter.

“For business leaders, what your major was, where you went, none of that matters as much — it’s the skills,” Brandon Busteed, the executive director of Gallup Education, tells Quartz. “They think that if you go to Princeton and you major in engineering and have the skills I’m hiring for great, but if you majored in engineering in Princeton and can’t do the job, what does it matter?”

This isn’t to say that where you do to school and what you study when you get there don’t matter at all. Note that a hefty percentage of business leaders told Gallup that both were “somewhat important,” if not the most important thing.

These results do tell us, however, that in addition to picking the best school and major for their budget, interests, and career prospects, students should try to gain as much experience in their fields as possible, before graduation.

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What’s the most important skill for a new hire, in your opinion? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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