Your College Diploma Isn’t Helping Your Career

by Matt Goldenberg

Credentials on Wall

What I’m about to reveal is an uncomfortable truth.

College diplomas, PHDs, and certifications aren’t the best career investment. The conventional wisdom is wrong… and I’m about to debunk this “Cult of Credentials.”

Now, as soon as I say that, I know I’m immediately going to get some objections.

  1. You make one million more dollars over the course of your career with a college education.
  2. You can’t become a doctor or lawyer without a degree.
  3. Certifications increase your value to a company.

Now, some of these may be true (and some may not be), but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s something that matters to employers infinitely more than your credentials.

So What Matters More Than Credentials?

Employers know that credentials only tell half the story.

Credentials show that you have knowledge; they don’t show that you can actually use that knowledge in a way that can help the company.

In fact, more and more employers are starting to realize that there’s only one thing that strongly correlates with on-the-job performance: real world results.

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Why Real World Results Matter More Than Anything Else

A little known study from 1985 [1] proved that credentials aren’t the end all be all.

It compared various methods of interviewing. One group of interviewers were taught typical interview techniques, including evaluating credentials and applying a rating scale. The other group was taught to ask about previous experience, and use that for the rating scale.

The only one that correlated with actual job performance? Asking about previous results and experience.

Still not convinced? Let’s look at the stats from one of the most data-driven companies in the world: Google.

Google’s Results

Google recently ran an interview in The New York Times where they shared their data on interviewing that revealed something shocking – almost all methods of interviewing were awful at predicting job performance, as were credentials.

What did work for hiring? Asking about real world results. In fact, they have some departments where as much as 14% of employees don’t have any college degree at all.

So What Should You Do?

Take a look at all the money you’re currently spending on credentials: certifications, college degrees, courses, and memberships.

Now try a simple thought experiment.

What if you spent 5% of that money on learning the same material through books, videos, and training materials…

And the other 95% on getting real world results that could prove to companies like Google that you are worth hiring?

What types of crazy projects, events, and results could you create with all that cash?
What type of miracles could you create?

The answers are your ticket to an amazing new career.

P.S. Know someone who doesn’t have a college degree that could benefit from this article? Or someone who puts to much stock in their degree for their own good? I’d really appreciate if you

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P.P.S. Do you think a college degree will help your career, or do you think it’s a waste of time? Let me know in the comments.

[1]Orpen, C, 1985, Patterned behavior description interviews versus unstructured interviews: A comparative validity study. *Journal of Applied Psychology v. 70, p. 774-776*


One response on “Your College Diploma Isn’t Helping Your Career

  1. […] list under credentials is a college degree. However, if we ask the question: "How can I get this job without a degree?" we often find that there are other brand indicators they can acquire that will allow them to […]

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