No degree tech job

I have talked about this here and there in past posts, so it’s good to see it start to hit mainstream media and have it come up in actual conversations with people that do something changing the ‘norm’.

Why More Tech Companies Are Hiring People Without Degrees.

For years, the tech pipeline has been fed mostly from the same elite universities. This has created a feedback loop of talent and a largely homogenous workplace. As a result, tech continues to stumble when it comes to diversity.

The technology industry is now trying to figure out a way to attack its cultural and demographic homogeneity issues. One simple initiative is to begin to recruit talent from people outside of its preferred networks. One way is to extend their recruiting efforts to people who don’t have four-year degrees.

So how do you find these people, what sort of ‘test’ do you apply to them since they don’t have a degree check box that you can lazily tick?

IBM’s head of talent organization, Sam Ladah, calls this sort of initiative a focus on “new-collar jobs.” The idea, he says, is to look toward different applicant pools to find new talent. “We consider them based on their skills,” he says, and don’t take into account their educational background. This includes applicants who didn’t get a four-year degree but have proven their technical knowledge in other ways.

What other way?

“We’re looking for people who have a real passion for technology,” says Ladah. He goes on to say that currently about 10% to 15% of IBM’s new hires don’t have traditional four-year degrees.

To do this is going to take work. You are going to need to go out and lift a few rocks to find these people, they are not going to seek out the limelight, they are not going to be making a lot of look-at-me noise. Their minds are on other aspects of life…. Like what?

Passion. This is sort of in the same corner as what I sometimes call curiosity. In fact, I think they both need, and often do, go together.
Some of the people we have interviewed here at Opto over the years often don’t have a smartwatch, don’t know what model phone they have, are running XP on their computer at home…. They have a 4.0 or close to it GPA, clearly very ‘smart’, but there is no passion for tech, they are just good at what they do and you can tell they just took the line of least resistance through college. They ticked the box, they got their 4 year degree and are now job hunting.
Frequently, when asked, they don’t do any programming at home, they have not built anything, have not written any programs outside of their homework assignments…. There is no passion, no excitement, no curiosity for how stuff works.

Anyway, I just am glad to see that someone somewhere is thinking about hiring people that may not ‘fit’ the college mould and yet are driven in other ways that are desperately needed in all companies.