623 business leaders based in the United States responded to the poll. While 84 percent said that the amount of knowledge the candidate has in a field was “very important” and 79 percent gave applied skills the same ranking, only 28 percent reported that the candidate’s major was such a critical factor. The least important factor, according to the poll, was the candidate’s alma mater; just 9 percent felt that the applicant’s school was “very important.”
Gallup administered the same poll to the American public and found some interesting differences. 80 percent of those polled agreed with business leaders that knowledge in the field was a very important factor when considering candidates. But the poll revealed that the public is far more impressed than business leaders are by the degree and the school that awarded it: 47 percent categorized college major as very important, and 30 percent said that the candidate’s school was very important.
Gallup points out connections between their findings and the hiring practices of companies like Google that are more impressed by merit and achievement than by diplomas. The takeaway? College is still important, but so is being able to demonstrate that one’s skills extend beyond earning good grades in a classroom.