Sorry, You Just Don’t Measure Up

I recently read an interview in Monocle magazine, where a senior columnist of one of the main broadsheets in Turkey offered the following advice to journalists who were just starting out; ‘Young journalists need to broaden their horizons beyond simply attending journalism school. The events of the last year, from Gezi to Syria, demonstrate that journalists need to be versed in everything ranging from economics to international relations in order to grasp the full story’.

There’s a really strong lesson here that also relates to hiring marketing talent. While journalism – like many other occupations, may require a more regimented approach to obtaining the right credentials, the same doesn’t hold true for anyone wanting to work in marketing. In fact, I would go one step further and discourage anyone interested in a marketing career from pursuing a marketing-specific degree. Why? Because as hiring managers, we’ve become rather obsessed with stipulating candidates come packaged with a certain type of degree requirement – be it marketing, event management, business administration or the likes of. And the more senior the role, you can bet good money that under the requirements section, the magic words ‘MBA preferred’ will be included.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very pro-education, and encourage anyone interested in the pursuit of knowledge to better ones skills through a degree program. What I oppose is this very myopic view of the type of person we should be hiring, which has created a stalemate culture of people sprouting the same, non-stop BS within marketing circles. We’ve become an inbred community of MBA’s, further compounded by hiring managers who covet academic elitism and degree arrogance when screening candidates.

Case in point, I was appalled by a particular example recently cited by a former colleague who talked me through a job interview where he’d been asked to disclose his GMAT score. Now, I should point out that this colleague is a seasoned professional, with immaculate tertiary degree credentials, and over 15 years of industry experience. Yet, the technology company he was seeking to join felt that in order to protect their elitist, Ivy League only hiring practices, test scores taken over a decade ago were somehow the benchmark to evaluate his worthiness.

Behavior like that makes me really cross, because what we should be doing is judging candidates on their experience and the quality of their ideas, rather than collegiate credentials. Especially given the countless talented marketers who’ve opted not to get a degree, but who’ve cultivated enough erudite thinking over the years to put many an MBA to shame. Thankfully we’ve avoided scarring those that are agency-side, as this phenomena seems to be confined primarily to client-side roles. And I do get encouraged whenever I see the words ‘or relevant years experience’ accompanying the degree requirement, but it’s not nearly enough.

So I urge anyone reading this who has a role to play in the recruitment process, to treat candidate selection with care. Give each individual who takes the time to show interest in your organization the consideration they deserve, and let’s do-away with confined notions of what a textbook hire should represent.

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