It’s all a matter of degree

How often you see a requirement to be educated to degree level in Internal Communications recruitment ads? More often than not I’d wager.

Even for an entry level role there seems to be a belief in some quarters that a degree is a must. There is an assumption that a graduate will have the necessary intellectual capacity to cope with the demands of a complicated industry. There is an assumption that a graduate will have a proven ability to write well and work under pressure.

Well not here it ain’t. Business acumen gives you credibility. A sparkle in your eye helps engage an audience. A strong work ethic helps you meet deadlines. Fire in your belly lights up a room full of jaded executives. A sense of humour disarms a potential foe. I could go on but I think you can see where I’m going with this.

Going to university is no guarantee of any of these prized characteristics – and I’d place all of them above the need to see a relatively meaningless piece of paper.

Paper sifting any candidate for an Internal Communications role because they do not have a degree is nothing more than a sign of lazy recruitment and it reflects badly on the hiring company.

Anyone care to disagree?

8 thoughts on “It’s all a matter of degree

  1. Once again Jon, I’m right with you on this one.

    I’ve recruited many IC folk over the years and having a degree has NEVER been a prerequisite – in fact, am sure many will groan at this, I’ve never bothered checking education history.

    Like you, for me, it’s much more about personality, character, clout, work ethic, acumen, sense of humour, ability, track record – or sometimes even just a gut feeling I’ve had.

    I’ve got numerous success stories of taking a punt with someone from a completely different background – call centres, armed forces, administrative roles etc – where I just knew they’d be fantastic in comms.

    Look forward to seeing other views on this one…

  2. Totally agree with you Jon, I don’t have a degree as I started work as a trainee journalist immediately after my A Levels and I don’t think it has held me back.

    Later on in my career, after 10 years, I decided to study for a post-graduate degree in Internal Communications Management and found this helped reinforce instinct with theories and tools. Arguably I didn’t ‘need’ to do it, but I would encourage IC professionals to explore whether this is something that would help sharpen their thinking or at the very least enable you to have a fantastic network of like-minded peers.

    When recruiting I wouldn’t discount anyone without a degree as I agree with Abi’s point – it’s about personality, drive and more often than not a gut feeling rather than ticks in the relevant education boxes.

    Interesting post Jon, thanks for sharing.

    • I’m with you on the self-improvement tack Rachel. It would be complacent to believe you can get by with experience and application alone. As you say, you probably could but it does no harm to push yourself and continue learning throughout your career. And never under estimate the importance of a strong professional network!

  3. Christopher says:

    As an internal communications practitioner who’s job hunting at the moment, it’s good to hear there are people out there who look beyond the educational background on a CV.

    I don’t have a degree, I started working in a callcentre as a stop gap when I decided that my teacher training degree wasn’t for me. 10 years later, in that same callcentre, I’ve slowly specialised my way into managing the internal comms for the whole contract across multiple locations. I’ve built up a huge amount of experience “on the job” and I’m sure that this is more valuable than a piece of paper.

    Having said that, I still find myself looking at the professional qualifications offered by organisations such as the IOIC, and wonder if I should invest my time (and a lot of money) into these. Do they make a difference to a recruiter or potential employer?

    • Hi Christopher, thanks for dropping by. It may or may not be important to a recruiter or potential employer, but it will definitely make a difference to you. It’s not obtaining the qualification that will make a difference but what you as an individual pick up along the journey. I did the Post graduate diploma in Internal Communications Management at Kingston university in 2006 and I never bothered to collect the certificate. I was not interested in sticking a certificate on my wall, but was drawn to the opportunity to spend some time (quite a lot actually!) working through Internal Communications issues and theory and applying it to my individual and real-life circumstances at work. Do it!

  4. Liam FitzPatrick says:

    Abi Signorelli :
    in fact, am sure many will groan at this, I’ve never bothered checking education history.

    Actually I think it’s pretty obvious if you’re talking to someone with a brain or not.

    A few years ago the Director of Comms at a world leading university said to me that “around here there’s no premium on clever – we’ve got lots of that – what we need is smart”…

    And I’m not sure how you test that apart from a long chat!


  5. Well said Liam. A degree or professional qualification really only demonstrates an ability to apply oneself to an academic discipline. There is so much more than that in play when it comes to being a highly prized employee and spending quality time with an applicant has to be the most important part of talent acquisition.

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