Google isn’t big on college degrees, although the search giant is inundated with applicants touting perfect GPAs from Ivy League schools.
Google’s chairman and head of hiring, Laszlo Bock, has given a few insights in the New York Times on how he sorts through a multitude of bright applicants.
The upshot is that Google values the skills and experiences that candidates get in college, but a degree doesn’t tell them much about talent or grit.
You don’t need a college degree to be talented
“When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people,” Bock said.
Many businesses “require” a college degree; at Google, the word “college” isn’t even its official guide to hiring. With the rise of self-paced college courses and vocational learning, plenty of driven people can teach themselves all of the necessary skills to work at the company.
Demonstrate a skill, not an expertise
“If you take somebody who has high cognitive ability, is innately curious, willing to learn and has emergent leadership skills, and you hire them as an HR person or finance person, and they have no content knowledge, and you compare them with someone who’s been doing just one thing and is a world expert, the expert will go: ‘I’ve seen this 100 times before; here’s what you do,’” Bock said.
College degrees are, almost by definition, a certificate of expertise. A degree in journalism is a giant badge meant to tell the world that you know at least a little bit about the trade of telling stories and interviewing people.
But a degree really doesn’t say what a graduate can do. Can they present an idea in front of a crowd? Can they build a website? Can they think interestingly about problems, or did they just pass some tests?