Street Smarts and Attitude Beat the MBA and PHD Nerd Almost Every time

street smartsYesterday I read a fantastic post by Chris Fields
entitled Dumb it Down which talks about how some employers are threatened by educated people and recruiters suggest that candidates Dumb it Down. Chris is right to say to those employers to “Go walk off a short pier”. We all want our kids to be educated, go to great schools and strive for the highest level of success that is possible. Having said that “street smarts and attitude” will beat the MBA and PHD nerd every time. Now if you have street smarts attitude and are an MBA and PHD nerd or non nerd let’s talk job and numbers right now.

I remember working for a company in the late 90’s that would only hire PHD candidates for their fiber optics research roles at a time when the labor market was extremely competitive and where there were very little PHD candidates available. It took some convincing but when I was able to get leadership focused on hiring non-PHD students for key roles they found for the most part that those candidates were more business and sales focused and more a-tuned to the customer market vs. PHD students that were “pie in the sky” focused. Where we had struggled in the past to develop great products that customers wanted, we were now hitting the sweet spot.

Let’s face it, degrees matter but candidates without degrees can be superstars and rockstars. Many of them are entrepreneurs, innovators that chase their dream and are relentless in their desire to achieve.

So look beyond the “degree” look to the core of the individual and the skills they bring to your business. You might be surprised that their value proposition might far surpass what a PHD or MBA student might bring. Tell me your story.


About attackdefenddisrupt

An executive with over 20 years providing recruiting, talent management and IT solutions to corporations and government.
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6 Responses to Street Smarts and Attitude Beat the MBA and PHD Nerd Almost Every time

  1. I’m a bit of both – does that count ? 🙂

  2. You’d think with a job in a College of Business advising MBA students regarding their career choices I wouldn’t agree with your blog. But I agree completely. Too many MBA graduates are coming out of school with no real experience or accomplishments saying “I won’t do X because I have an MBA.” My advice to them is ALWAYS to sell their accomplishments and abilities first and leave the MBA to fend for itself. Create a vision of the future you can create, not a portrait of the past. Additionally, if an undergrad comes to me and can’t explain how an MBA fits into their career plan, I advise them against getting one. Too many students go to grad school, take on more debt, and put off the inevitable job search not because they will reap a benefit from their graduate business education but because they don’t know what they want to be when they graduate.

    • More education is a great thing but many candidates that extremely well educated come in with lofty expectations and rarely want to put in the required hard work to get to the next level. Many just expect promotions and pay increase will happen just because of their degree. Well think again!!!

  3. I wish I could agree with you but I just can’t. Not necessarily saying you must have a degree but if you work hard to get one, no one should tell you not to put it on your resume. If you choose to dumb down your education and or skills to get a job and it works for you…then rock on.

    • Chris,

      I never mentionned one should dumb it down!!! I just think that too many companies require advanced degrees when in many cases it does not make a difference. It’s a screening process. Now having said that in some cases a great candidate comes along that is business oriented and has a great advanced education. You know who I will hire if that is the case. Cheers.

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