Author:de la Vega, Ralph

Technological change is making us rethink what we thought was indispensable.

Take the college degree, for example. It used to be the standard requirement for most professional and managerial jobs.

But recently as many as 15 top employers, including Apple and Google, have dropped that requirement.

Innovation may be outpacing the knowledge learned in college. Consider the argument that the half-life of a learned skill is about five years. That means half of what you learned 10 years ago is obsolete and half of what you learned five years ago is irrelevant.

Is a degree still necessary?

I'm a huge proponent of a college education. When young people ask me that question I encourage them to get the best education possible. But I also tell them they must continue to learn their entire lives so they can remain up to date.

The key is to do both. If I had to choose, I'd say that constant learning in a self-directed environment might even more important.

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, two of the best-educated people I've known, did not get college degrees. Yet they found a way to educate themselves and never stopped learning. As a result, they were able to bring incredible innovation to our lives.

From the leaders' point of view

When I talk to leaders, I encourage them to look for people with proven records of handling difficult and varied assignments with unquestionable integrity. People who can continuously develop new leadership skills.

Academic degrees and strong grade point averages (GPAs) are good indicators of the person's self-discipline to achieve a goal. But they are not the sole indicators of his or her future performance.

In an article I wrote for LinkedIn (What I Look for isn't on your Resume) I argued that, for me, a candidate's ethics, integrity, and credibility were more important than degrees and GPAs.

I continue to stand by what I said at that time. In fact, given today's pace of change, I'd add the ability to learn to the list.

Your organization depends on it

If you are in an industry that is impacted by change (and which isn't?) you must look for the ability to learn and relearn among the people you hire and promote.

Let's look at the fast-moving field of information technology and...

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