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The Unintended Consequences of Stupid Hiring Policies


I ran into a company the other day that had the very stringent requirement that all of their Vice Presidents – administrative, sales, clinical – must have a Master’s Degree. They follow this requirement to the letter. They are willing to hire professionals at the Director level if they are at least pursuing a graduate degree; but they must agree in writing to complete that degree within a specified amount of time. Let me just say that this is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. Here’s why:

1) Master’s Degrees are a dime a dozen.* Unless you’re getting one from a school recognized in the top 10 for the respective field of study, your masters is worth no where close to what you’ll pay for it. Sorry, but if I see a Master’s from University of Phoenix on someone’s resume, I’m inclined not only to discount that degree, but to ignore it entirely.

B) Have you ever checked out the College Dropouts Hall of Fame? Its halls are lined with terribly successful people who made their name without any letters behind it. Do you really think you have a better chance of getting better, smarter, faster, stronger employees if they have a graduate degree? Really?

3) Did you know that in 2008, 409,000 Master’s Degrees were conferred to Whites. 65,000 were conferred to Blacks, and only 37,000 to Hispanics? This is a Catholic institution charged with serving all races and creeds yet it’s purposely creating a homogeneous workforce by so carefully dictating the profile of its ideal employee. And by doing so, it’s losing diverse perspective, innovative thinking, and ability to challenge the status-quo. How pitifully hypocritical!

This company is a healthcare powerhouse headquartered in St. Louis – they employee 30,000 people and 4,000 physicians across seven states. I’m sure their recipe works…for them. But how long will it work? And how well will it work? Particularly if things go south or unprecedented challenges are heaped upon them. Please don’t do something this stupid in your organization…please.

*If you have a Masters Degree, I’m happy for you. I think it’s a good thing, I just don’t think it’s a necessary thing from an employment perspective. I’m sure you have personally gained from it and that’s really more important. I certainly mean no offense to you.

Photo Credit: NicePicture

  • Steve Browne

    Charlie – Thanks for being so candid !! Too often organizations hold onto obvious blind spots. This seems to be the case here. I wonder how agile they are as a company . . . . ?? Always great stuff. Continue to rip the walls down !!

  • Charlie

    @steve – my guess is their turning radius is like the Queen Mary’s. thx for the comment.

  • John Hunter

    Rigid requirements in hiring are foolish. That so many lazy companies do it increases the benefits of being more sensible. With so many companies choosing to deny even considering great candidates that gives you an opportunity to get great people just by judging people on their potential not some piece of paper they don’t have.
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  • Charlie

    @John – absolutely spot on to turn this whole critique into an opportunity for other employers who are doing it the right way. well done!

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  • unintended consequences

    Hire talent, not degrees. Masters degrees can be obtained by anyone who wants to go to the bother of getting one and mean little without experience, work ethic, talent, etc.
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