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Google, Apple, IBM among large companies dropping college degree requirement for new hires

Foot, meet door.

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Image: Unsplash

Job-search site Glassdoor compiled a list of companies that no longer require applicants to have a college degree. This list includes companies like Google, Apple, IBM, Ernst & Young, Lowe’s, Starbucks and a few more you might have heard of. This, of course, speaks to office-type jobs, rather than a barista or customer service associate fighting back the urge to hit a customer in the face with a piece of pre-treated wood.

Now, there are two caveats to this news to understand. First off, there is a difference between requiring a degree and actually enforcing that policy. My personal experience should clarify that point. Every position I’ve held the last 15 years has required at least a Bachelor’s degree in either statistics, finance or something similar. I have no degree. Not even an Associate of Arts. What I have is working experience and for the companies that have employed me, that carries more weight.

For many companies though, the experience is not enough. For a long time, they have drawn a hard line in the sand. You either have a degree or you don’t and if you don’t, you don’t get in the fucking door. At all. Again, from experience, I’ve seen many degreed people with no experience walk into a business thinking they know it all, and quickly get walked the fuck out because they know nothing. Often, they are untrainable because they have a degree. You try training an MBA as a junior business analyst.

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Image: Apple

While this doesn’t hold true for every worker, it does create a sticking point for many companies at some point. There is a moment where they just need someone who knows what they are doing to come in and get to work. Just having a degree doesn’t provide that. Naturally, over time, those with degrees do add working experience to their resumes and that’s great. Good for them. For many other workers, they have struggled to advance their career because of the strict degree requirement.

IBM is now looking at candidates who have gone to a coding boot camp, or vocational classes. This is one grand example of expanding the search to find the right person for the job, not just the person that has a degree in the field. This means that not only will there be more opportunities for more potential employees, but it also means that people have a choice. College, not being a requirement for tech jobs, is a huge shift in the paradigm of employment.

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Image: Fortune

While this is good news for a lot of professionals, it speaks to a larger trend in America that has created a rift in the available workforce. There are tons of jobs out there, workers just lack the skill set to land these jobs. Switching the focus from just having a degree to actually having the skills to perform the job might signal a sea-change in how potential job seekers approach new opportunities. With the cost of college continuously on the rise, it might behoove workers to focus more on the needed skills required for any given job, rather than a blanket degree to get in the door.

I have thrived by just getting my foot in the door and yes, sometimes I have had to bullshit away the lack of a degree. But with performance, that is quickly forgotten. For many, Google, Apple, and all these other large companies have just opened their doors a little bit wider to allow experienced workers without degrees to have at least a chance. Because usually, that’s all we need to impress, just one step past the gatekeeper.

What do you think about this change in how big tech companies evaluate potential employees? Is it a good thing? Let us know below.

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A tech writer on the internet for over 15 years for outlets such as Forbes, Wired, TNW, and others, Curtis is exhausted, burnt out and happy to just write buying guides and the occasional review for KnowTechie, the best tech blog your mom never told you about. Ephemeral existence for ephemeral times. Please send pitches and grainy pictures of the inside of your elbow to kevin@knowtechie.com

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