Two week ago I happened to bump into my old friend Linda. I met her four years ago in some social event. A very voguish executive she was then. She had a bachelor’s degree from a mediocre college and was a very talented person and worked in the HR department of a company. She had a good paying job, looked pretty, and enjoyed every bit of her life.
The current story she told threw me off. She got laid off three years ago because their HR department was combined with admin to cut the cost to the company. Companies wouldn’t hire her for the lack of a degree from a recognized university. She thought maybe getting a PG in HR from a good university would make her more qualified and pique the interest of the recruiters. She took a big loan and went back to school and got her PG and some other additional specialization certification. She embarked on her journey of serious job searching wearing an invisible crown of Master’s degree embellished with a jumbo loan to be repaid.
She never left a stone unturned in applying for jobs but didn’t even get an interview. The tanking economy claimed her husband’s job, too. Both sat home digging into their savings to eat, pay the bills, and continued to apply for jobs. When their savings wiped out they had to depend on the unemployment dole which also came to an end one day. Like the last straw on a camel’s back, they fell way back on their rent, and they got an eviction notice from the landlord. Her husband went back to Chicago in search of a job and she remained in California all alone struggling to survive.
“Whatever we saved as a down payment to buy our own house was spent on our medical bills, grocery, insurance, and in paying my student loan installments and I still I have a lot more to repay,” she looked around to hide her welled up eyes from me.
In the last three years her talent and positivity dropped to penniless, paranoid, and sickness. Her cheeks were tucked in so deep that all I could see was her pointy nose under a dry and wrinkled forehead. Her, otherwise very pretty oval, face shrunk to a square making her look thirty years older.
Her excellence in academic, talent, and experience couldn’t help her with buying food, cloth, and shelter. She rather lost her sleep thinking about repaying the loans.
“Every time I thought about our future my diaphragm stops functioning,” she pulled her arms together.
Is that all we have to expect from our education and degrees? Is it just a token piece of paper to show we can read and write? Except for big loan repayment installments until we retire, can we attribute any value to it? Don’t we deserve a reasonable job as a reward for the hard work we put in and sacrifices we make to wear that black gown and the cap and wave the rolled paper with an optimistic and proud smile we flash at our parents? Do we really have to have credentials from premier institutions to prove that we are smart and be eligible for a job?
As a part of my Human Resources studies, I remember studying a chapter which insisted the values of talent acquisition and recommended that HR managers and recruiters should have a talent acquisition programs as a part of their hiring process. I have hardly seen that being a part of hiring practices. It just remained a theory for me.
There are many candidates like Linda who are very talented, adept in learning new applications, and hard working as well. Resume is a just façade of a candidate giving a basic profile of how he or she is suitable for the job. An extremely skilled worker may not be able to write a killer resume.
Engineering, medicine, fashion, construction, and textiles everything perfectly existed in Indus Valley and ancient Roman civilizations, too. But there were no Yale or Harvard or Cambridge then. People developed their careers putting their talents and flair in best use. In fact we the denizens of a modern era learned quite a lot from those geniuses who hardly went to a school. We built our empire on their foundations.
The qualifications and certifications which can’t award us three meals a day, shelter over our head, and some savings for our old-age, is it worth coughing up so much money and burning hours of midnight oil to own that piece of paper? Please don’t get me wrong – I’m surely not saying to quit schooling or suggest not sending children to school. What I mean is the convergence of education, skills, and experience should place a person in a better place – not in starvation and or living in a fright of losing our home.
Out of the box thinking, enterprising attitude, and a vision will make us invincible in our efforts. There are no certifications and GPA count required for this. These are the qualities many of us may have but may not have GPA of 4 and degrees from Ivy League schools. Many modern entrepreneurs are geniuses without any college degree. They have an absolute vision and a drive to make that vision a success.
If our precious time, big money, and our seamless efforts are put in to gaining academic skills, it must be rewarded. If the corporates and governments are not in a position to reward us, we have to reward ourselves and others who are sailing in the same boat like us. Become self-employed. One self-employed person can not only create an opportunity for oneself but for many others as well.
No empirical evidence is needed to say successful entrepreneurship promotes industrial growth which in turn will strengthen the country’s economy. A healthy economy can invest money and resources in free or less expensive education, innovation and technology which will open up markets with new jobs.
Placing all the eggs in one basket isn’t a right move. Simply slashing and adding skills to the resume according to the job description and clicking the submit button several times a day is just a mere waste of time. Disappointment plays mostly a step-mom for our expectations. Spreading the efforts in thinking innovatively, exploring the entrepreneurial opportunities, rather than raising loans to pay for the same run of the mill courses – investing money wisely in more prospective fields of education will never fail anyone. Look around there are so many examples and role models within our knowledge.
Need a proof ? Watch this: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/bunker_roy.html