I have had the opportunity to recruit for some of the most innovative and successful companies in the world. Some of the roles I have headhunted for were very complex in nature requiring both a PhD in Mathematics, Quantitative Analysis or Physics and the ability to relate to and engage with customers. It was this exposure that makes me unimpressed completely and utterly unimpressed with your degree.


 Now don’t get your feathers in a ruffle I do respect the hard work and dedication that goes into obtaining an advanced degree but as a seasoned recruiter I do not have the “degree lust” that many recruiters and HR professionals seems to have. Your degree tells me that you are a dedicated, educated and diligent individual; that I like. What it does not tell me is if you actually have the ability and personality to apply this knowledge in a real world setting.  


I approach every interview with an open mind and as a blank slate. I want for you the candidate to paint me the picture of what you see the role as and how you would perform the duties necessary to get the job completed. During our time together do not care about your pedigree or high level personal referral. During that time all I care about is your raw ability to get the job done and grow with the company in the future.

If you are someone with an advanced degree or well on the road to getting one I’m sure you are still pretty aggravated with me at the moment but don’t stop reading just yet, I have some advice for you. Your degree is valuable but it is even more valuable and useful if you know how to use it. While you are getting your education it is very critical that you do two things. This first thing you should try and do is get real world experience. Get out there and get an internship or job in a space relevant to what you will be doing. The second thing that I highly recommend is to get a business mentor. Find a mentor who is extremely good at communicating and navigating corporate waters and soak up as much knowledge from them as you possibly can. Doing these two simple things will pay off in more ways than you can imagine because as a recruiter your degree doesn’t impress me; you do!


Circling back to the job I mentioned headhunting for earlier one would think finding somebody with an advanced degree in the space I was seeking would be the hard part but it was not. The hard part was finding somebody with this knowledge who I felt that I could comfortably place in a room full of prospective clients. Education can be a powerful tool but it is nothing without the knowledge and knack to properly apply it in the business world. That being said to all of my fellow recruiters don’t you dare be shy to present the candidate with their B.A. against the candidate with their Masters if the candidate less educated candidate is truly more qualified for the role. We must take a stance to hire the best candidate not the best resume.



Andrea Clarkson

Andrea Clarkson has been working in the field of Human Resources and Employment Branding for over 10 years and has had the honor of sitting on the Board of Directors for both the Orlando Chapter of the Florida Staffing Association and South Brevard SHRM.

Views: 576

Comment by Anna Brekka on December 10, 2014 at 5:22pm

Couldn't agree more. 

Comment by Amanda Selleck on December 10, 2014 at 11:11pm

Great post Andrea. Too many hiring managers scribe lists of what they require without reason. It's a recruiters job when taking the brief to ask what all these qualifications and skills are needed for and how it sets them apart from someone not degree qualified. It's about listing skills and competencies, not necessarily degrees and qualifications. 

On another note, I think more needs to be done at university level to encourage internships, work placements and mentor programs. Having said that, even if they were, I am not sure students would take advantage. But I completely agree with the notion, it should be learning in a real world environment. Not isolated academic study. 

Comment by Nicholas Meyler on December 11, 2014 at 1:04am

Stephen Hawking never completed his PhD... there are quite a few other examples.  Edison had a 3rd grade education, etc.  Performance is the issue, not parchment.

Comment by Ralph Boccella on December 15, 2014 at 11:32am

I agree wholeheartedly but at the end of the day we serve our clients. Certainly push the B.A. if you believe in the candidate's ability, but if that tact doesn't work then the client's profile is all that matters. We all have clients who view us as collaborators and we may be able to change the hiring profile based on our prior history. But IMHO, more times than not the rote profile rules. 

Comment by Andrea Clarkson on December 15, 2014 at 3:19pm

Thank you all for your comments. I've seen the best and the brightest be passed over time and time again when they deserved the role. On the other side of it I want to urge those pursuing a higher education to make sure they do not resat on the laurels of the degree alone.


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