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Knowledge is Key for Graduates, Says Gallup; Google Agrees
By: Jeannine Wheeler
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When you walk into a client’s office with a new pitch, believe me, he doesn’t care where you went to school, how many degrees you have, or where you were born. All he cares about is whether you know what you’re taking about and if you’ll achieve results. Same goes for hiring new college graduates, says a recent Gallup poll.

U.S. business leaders say the amount of knowledge a candidate has in a field, as well as applied skills, are more important factors than where a candidate attended school or what their college major was, according to the Gallup-Lumina Foundation Business Leaders Poll on Higher Education.

The poll of business leaders found that:
  • 84% think candidates’ knowledge in the field is key
  • 79% believe applicants’ applied skills are vital
  • 28% think candidates’ college major is very important
  • 9% place pronounced emphasis on where candidates went to school
Interestingly, the American public is more hung up on degrees:
  • 47% believe candidates’ college or university major is very important
  • 30% valued most importantly where a candidate received the degree
  • 80% agreed that the amount of knowledge the candidate has is the most vital
  • 76% believed skills in the field were vital
The Gallup poll findings correspond with recent insights into how large, high-tech corporations like Google conduct their hiring. Google hiring managers say certain types of skills and talents are what matter most, more than a particular type of college degree or even having a college degree at all.

“GPAs are worthless as a criterion for hiring and test scores are worthless,” Google’s senior vice president of people operations Laszlo Bock told The Times. “We found that they don’t predict anything.” He noted that the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased” and is now as high as 14% on some teams.

Colleges such as Northeastern University (NU) that offer a cooperative education program are fully aware of the value of experience, coupled with an excellent education. Founded in 1898 and located in Boston, Massachusetts, NU students are enrolled for a total of five years (they have a ‘Middler’ year), allowing students a full year of 9–5 work experience in their chosen fields by the time they graduate. According to the school, 90% of graduates from ’06–’12 were employed full-time or enrolled in graduate school.

No matter the combination with which you graduate — book skills, workplace skills, or a bit of wisdom and grace — all these characteristics will be important your whole profession through.

Ralph Waldo Emerson perhaps said it best:

“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.”

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About the Author
Jeannine Wheeler is a PR Director who has worked in three countries, including Russia, the US and the UK. She is currently Sr. Vice President of Pure Energy PR, a full-service boutique communications firm with a focus on the energy, healthcare, technology, construction, real estate & land development, tourism & hospitality and food & beverage industries. Jeannine is in the firm's Austin, Texas office.
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