Things Employees Care About More Than Your Degree

For many, fretting about what degree to pursue is commonplace. We’re often so preoccupied with getting into the right college, securing incredible grades, and graduating with a well-recognized degree. But how important does a prospective employer consider a degree anyway?

Countless studies have shown that things like your GPA, the classes you took, the college you went to, and the degree you have, actually rank quite low on the list of things prospective employers are interested in seeing. According to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 33% of the total jobs in the country require a college degree. That means that for all of the other jobs which don’t require a degree, there are certain skills and attributes that employers put more emphasis on.

Here are some of the attributes that employers consider more important when looking to hire new individuals, along with responses from people who have some real life advises to share.

Communication Skills

Most jobs require candidates to be able to display excellent communication skills. This is because in most cases you’re going to have to be working with a team of people. To ensure that everyone is able to work cohesively and effectively, you need to be able to prove that you have the ability to communicate with ease.

Your college degree will not be sufficient to demonstrate that you have the requisite communication skills. Unless of course, you did a degree in media and communications, in which case, your degree does the talking for you.

In most cases however, a candidate will need to be able to show that they have excellent communication skills. This can be demonstrated by past experiences, etc.

Overseas experience and foreign languages. I left and went to work as a marketing manager, more experience than if I had stayed in America and more opportunity.

Margo Schlossberg

How Well Can You Manage Your Time?

Time management is arguably one of the most important skills that an individual is expected to have. In any job, you’re going to have deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, trainings to undergo, etc. There will be a whole lot that falls under the ambit of your job description and you’re going to have to effectively manage it all.

A prospective employer will be trying to determine how well you’re able to manage your time and how you can handle stresses.

Are You a Team Player?

There are very few jobs where you’ll be working in complete or near isolation. Most work requires you to be a part of a larger team of individuals. You need to be able to work well with a wide range of people in order to be successful in the real world.

Employers are keen to bring on team players, because not only does it make the running of the company more efficient, it also makes their job easier. If you’re a team player, you’ll likely start interacting and networking with people the minute you start working. This will help you get a feel for how things are carried out at the company, make friends, and learn and grow as a professional.

If you’re not a team player, human resources typically has to get involved in order to create team building exercises or manage problems when they arise between employees. This is a chore for the management and they are more interested in finding individuals who can demonstrate that they work well with others.

Someone with loyalty, commitment, and grit is likely to create more value for a company than someone who is brilliant. It's important to hire people who are loyal and looking to be a part of something for the long term.

Steve Benson | Founder and CEO of Badger Maps

Things employees care about more than your degree are your ability to work well with others and be a team player and your ability to carry your weight.

LaTishia L. Jordan |

Are you driven?

It’s not enough to show that you have a degree. You need to be able to demonstrate to a prospective employer just how driven and motivated you are. You also need to show employers that you are an individual who is independently driven and motivated. If you are someone who constantly needs an external boost, chances are the company might overlook you in favor of someone who is able to push and drive themselves.

Attitude. When you're told you are wrong, or are asked to do something hard, how do you react? Nobody cares about your accomplishments if you can't maturely handle a criticism or challenge.

Nikki Bruno |

As a school administrator who hired teachers, social workers, and other school staff, I looked for energy, attitude and fit for the job. The degree tells me you might be able to teach the subject matter, your personality shows me whether you might be able to teach the students!

Janet Ferone | M.Ed., President - Ferone Educational Consulting

Your character. If I interview you and you come across as honest, respectful and enthusiastic, it’s going to get you WAY further than your credentials. And I can make that judgment in under 30 seconds!

 Alexia Bregman | Founder and Chief Creative Officer - Vuka Natural Energy Drinks

How adaptable are you?

In today’s fast-paced workplace, adaptability is an indispensible and essential skill to have. Things are changing at a rapid pace and you need to be able to adapt to all of those changes.

An employer is always on the lookout for those individuals who have the ability to quickly and easily flow with new changes or developments in the workplace. 

  • As an employer what I care about more than a degree is an employee’s attitude and character.
  • I am a huge believer in looking for employees who are coachable, teachable and have a desire to grow and learn.
  • The ability to take initiative and proactively resolve issues with wisdom and discernment is a great asset in an employee.

Jessica Holbrook Hernandez | President/CEO -

Are you good with computer software?  

The type of computer software you need to be good with will vary depending on the type of job you are applying for. Generally, employers require candidates to have a sound understanding of how to use Microsoft Word and Excel.

Are you good at solving problems?

During the course of any job, employees will come across hurdles that they are expected to be able to cross. This is where your problem solving abilities kick in. When faced with an apparent problem, how well are you able to solve the dilemma and find a solution?

For an employer, an individual who is a problem solver is a huge asset. These sorts of individuals see road-blocks as things which need to be overcome; as a minor setback which has a solution. You have to be able to demonstrate to an employer that you are that sort of person and that you don’t get intimidated or defeated in the face of problems.

  • Ability to work together
  • Ability to tackle diverse issues from obnoxious customers/clients to adjusting to changing environment and tasks
  • Ability to solve problems not take memorization -based tests

Rebecca Klemm, PhD

Are you well-organized?

Excellent organizational skills are absolutely essential because they increase an individual’s efficiency. Having good organizational skills involves many things including being able to effectively plan and prioritize your work.

Remember, by hiring you, the company is making an investment in you. In order for that investment to be worthwhile, you need to demonstrate that you can utilize your time and skills to the best of your abilities.

For most employers, the grades you got in college and your degree are really secondary concerns. What they are more interested in is the set of transferrable skills you have accumulated over the course of your life, through school, volunteering, internships, etc.

Things that employers care more about than your degree can be summed up in the following responses:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Dedication towards the company
  • Motivation for the company
  • Flexibility (not too much stubbornness) regarding the job roles
  • Calmness / trustworthy

Noa Aziz | Senior Internship Consultant -

If I read somewhere on your résumé that you’re a Major League Baseball enthusiast or avid skateboarder, I’ll want to meet with you; and if you start the interview with a firm handshake and smile, I’ll most likely hire you. Personality and poise have more weight than a degree.

Mary Beth Sáles |



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