America’s Employers Place Technical Skills and Work Experience Above Rankings

By Carol D'Amico

Strada Education Network Executive Vice President, National Engagement and Philanthropy

Important news for all students when it comes to getting a job: what you can do is more important than the ranking of the university you attended. According to hiring managers and direct managers at U.S. employers, college rankings don’t determine hiring decisions. The vast majority of students do not attend institutions that are “top ranked,” and this does not limit their career possibilities.

According to a new national survey of employers commissioned by Strada Education Network and conducted by Gallup, 90 percent of hiring professionals say they don’t focus on college rankings when making hiring decisions.

Based on interviews with 2,108 business professionals who assess and hire new employees at their companies, the majority (56%) said that college rank is “Not at all important” when making hiring decisions about an applicant. An additional 34 percent said that college rank is “Not very important.” Together, that’s a whopping 90 percent of hiring professionals who say they don’t focus on college rankings when considering a job candidate.

So, what are they looking for when hiring?

Employers are looking at skills according to the Strada-Gallup survey. Hiring and managing professionals place priority on a job applicant’s personal and technical skills, their interview presentation, and previous work experience. Beyond considering college rankings, students should consider what colleges do to develop the skills and experiences that employers value. Do they offer strong internship programs, experiential learning, career-relevant coursework, co-op job opportunities and professional mentoring? How do they connect academic content to the world of work?

The more information education consumers have about what to look for in their education pathways and what they need to succeed in their career, the more valuable their college experience will be. At Strada, we call it Completion With a Purpose.

Additional findings from the Strada-Gallup Employer Survey will be released later this fall.