What Employers Want You to Learn

Employers want you to have a very specific set of personal skills. Among the top of the list are:  critical thinking, written and oral communications, inquiry and analysis, quantitative literacy, information literacy, team work and problem solving, life long learning. Notice that this list of priorities does not include, “a college degree from XYZ university” or “a major in ABC”.  This list prioritizes what you need to be able to do to be a valued employee. Your challenge is to wisely invest your time and money in learning that can provide these personal skills. The bottom line is that simply getting a college degree (“getting the piece of paper”) is not sufficient to meet these employer needs.

You need to learn to be able to compete today. Far-reaching global, economic and technological developments have converged to make post-secondary learning an imperative for almost everyone.

Buzz Today Source: Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College Both the country’s future economic growth and individual opportunity are now closely tied to the attainment of high levels of knowledge and skill, and to the ability to continuing learning over a lifetime. Former Harvard University President Derek Bok reports that college students are under-performing in virtually every area of academic endeavor including skills such as critical thinking, writing and quantitative reasoning.

So a question you should be asking is: “Why are employers looking for better ways to hire?” I defer to Laszio Bock, Google’s senior vice president for people operations to answer this question. “One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.s are worthless as a criteria for hiring and test scores are worthless – no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation,” Bock said. “Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything…On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything.” Source: New York Times Interview

The important thing about this information, is what it means to you – someone trying to decide the best course of action to your learn-prosper future. Here is the main take away. When it comes to getting a better job, one that is challenging, fulfilling and pays well, the things that have been valuable in the past are far less valuable today. Your opportunities are much more defined by how accomplished you are in the skills listed in the first paragraph of this blog than either the major or which college or university you attended. This all brings us to a discussion about the cost and value of your learning. This is a topic I will cover in future blog posts here. In the meantime, it is valuable to read “Your Future is Calling” to better understand why you should view learning as the path to the prosperous future you desire.

What You Study Matters

In Your Future is Calling I talk about your choice of degrees, careers and colleges. You need to start these decisions with “who you are”. If your degree and career does not satisfy you, money will not compensate you for being miserable everyday. Doing what satisfies you trumps everything else. Given this bedrock starting point, your choice of college, career and major have a big impact on your future. Here we are exploring the major that you pick to study.

  Buzz Today Source: Salary.com College Degrees with Worst Return on Investment

Fine Arts

Artists are respected, revered and celebrated. Here are three jobs commonly held by workers with a fine arts degree:

Median Salary: $48,401
30-Year Earnings: $2,854,689
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 75%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 22%

Median Salary: $47,753
30-Year Earnings: $2,816,470
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 74%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 22%

Median Salary: $37,819
30-Year Earnings: $2,230,563
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Public College: 58%
ROI of Degree Earner Attending Private College: 17%

There are several important things that you need to take from the data in BUZZ Today. The first thing we want to look at is the headline:  “Degrees with the Worst Return on Investment”. The ROI question has to be examined relative to other investment alternatives. As Warren Buffett has stated, the best investment you can make is in yourself. He is right. The annual rate of return on 10 year US government bonds is less than 2% per year.

The thing to note in the BUZZ Today is that even these “worst” investment options represent a significantly higher return than government bonds. In addition, no one can take your education away from you. It is yours forever.

The other thing to note in BUZZ Today, is how sensitive the financial return is to the tuition paid to earn the degree. In the example, Salary.com uses private vs. public to make the point of the cost of the tuition. But your return is not merely about your decision to go to a public university rather than a private university. There are many additional factors that affect how much you end up actually paying to earn your degree. For detailed information on what those are and how you can impact them read Your Future is Calling.