Does university prestige matter in hiring?

  • Share
  • Read Later

No, say half of CFOs. Yes, say half of CFOs.

Great. Thanks for settling that for us.

A survey released this week by staffing company Accountemps posed this question to CFOs. It focused on the hiring of finance majors, but we might infer how hiring executives view the question for the general populace. When CFOs were asked how important the prestige of the university was when making hiring choices,

the results were split — 49% said “not important at all” while 51% said it was “somewhat or very important.”

The chairman of Accountemps adds:

“Because many entry-level candidates have little professional experience, hiring managers often consider non-work-related factors, such as the quality of the applicant’s formal education,” said Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps and author of Human Resources Kit For Dummies. “But learning extends beyond the classroom — valuable skills and knowledge also are gained through extracurricular activities, internships and jobs held during college.”

“Employers should avoid letting a single factor, such as where an applicant went to school or which internships he or she completed, carry disproportionate weight in the evaluation process,” said Messmer. “A strong work ethic and the ability to adapt quickly to new environments for example, are equally desirable.”

I don’t know. I can say that, in my own place of work, university pedigree is a huge factor in hiring, at least of junior level employees. But it’s not a good indicator of subsequent success. What are your experiences?

POST-SCRIPT: Your comments below made me think to add this terrific cover story by Nathan Thornburgh and Nancy Gibbs in TIME recently, titled “Who Needs Harvard?”