Stupid Things Startups Do: Hiring

I’m on a bit of a rant today, as those folks who follow me on Twitter might have noticed. But I’m once again reminded of the completely idiotic thing that startups and tech companies are doing, which are only serving to hurt the companies in the long run.

I think this is going to be a series of blog posts, so I’m going to tackle one topic at a time. First up on the list:

Hiring Based on Education

Are we really still doing this crap? It’s 2013 and you’re still posting your entry-level positions with a requirement for a BS or MBA? You’re posting jobs that have a category requirement of 0-2 years of experience, only to tell someone with 6 months that you want someone with more experience?

Stop it. You’re screwing yourself.

If there’s something that every single entrepreneur should know, it’s that formal education counts for very little in the scope of ability. Yet every single day I see another company advertising for a job that 10 people I know could dominate, but they’re requiring a degree that none of them have.

Focus on abilities, not a piece of paper.

When I was in school for nursing, we had a guy who we called 007, because his license (once he got it) was only going to end up killing someone. He was the polar opposite of everything that you could ever want in a nurse, but he was incredibly well educated and he was a good test-taker.

He passed nursing school with flying colors, because the school didn’t put a focus on the person, only the number. A bit of exclusivity, and an interview process, could have ended this risk from day one.

When you hire based on an education, this is the danger that you’re welcoming into your company. That’s certainly not to insinuate that a degree is worthless, but far too often we see people with impressive strings of letters behind their names who only really know enough to be dangerous.

Building a company is risky on a good day. Minimize that risk by hiring people whose real-world education meshes with the job that you need filled. If that experience also includes a degree, then consider that bonus points, but stop calling it a requirement.

Stop hurting yourself.


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