In All But A Few Circumstances, I’ll Take A Solid Skills/Certifications List Over A Degree

When it comes to job requirements, I find degrees have less value than they did a decade ago. Certainly, some positions the demand specific degrees but they don’t comprise the majority of openings. Instead, placing higher value on demonstrated skill sets and platform certifications are where you’ll find job candidate gold.

Joe Patti beat me to the punch on this topic by a full day with a post that wonders if the field would be better off with a massive re-think about how much emphasis is placed on a degree.

Similarly, revamping job descriptions to remove degree requirements that are not necessary to perform the work and allowing the flexibility to work from home are cited as changes that are making culture jobs more attractive to applicants.

When I created the candidate database for Arts Admin Jobs, I made sure to include a section that highlights skills. The submission form includes detailed instructions informing candidates they should only list quantifiable skills, such as Mailchimp or Adobe Illustrator, but nothing like “collaborator” or “good listener.”

That doesn’t mean candidates don’t try to include the latter but when they do, they get filtered out before being published. Based on employer feedback and database metrics, these detailed skills are among the more popular methods employers use to identify candidates.

As a candidate or employer, what are your thoughts? Degrees may not be dead, but do they really hold enough value to be required? Would you rather know exactly which skills an employer needs in a new hire instead of whether you have an undergraduate degree?

Speaking of the Candidate Database, we’re up to 92 entries and the only way you can access them is with an employer’s subscription.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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