Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Value of 'Required' Credentials Brought Into Focus Again

Steve Masiello: Does he need a degree to coach?
For years I have questioned  the value of required credentials, the "college degree  required" line on job descriptions that simply do not need a college degree.

When I began in journalism in 1964, a significant portion of the people I worked with in the newsroom at the Asheville Citizen-Times had no degrees. I moved to the daily paper in Roanoke in 1971 and the same situation existed here. I didn't have a degree and hadn't really even begun college, unless you count that tiny exploration in 1965.

Today we're reading about a basketball coach at Manhattan College, Steve Masiello, who was denied a job at South Florida University because he said he had a degree in communications from the University of Kentucky (2000), but he does not. Manhattan has put him on leave. (Story here.)

The guy's a good coach, one sought after by programs a step up from Manhattan's, a school that made the NCAA tournament field this year--the gold standard for lower level NCAA programs. He has an excellent resume for a basketball coach: he played for a national champion at Kentucky, was an assistant under Rick Petino (who coached him at Kentucky) at Louisville, and was an assistant at Manhattan and Tulane before getting the head coaching job.  His Manhattan team nearly beat Louisville last week.

My thought is that he should be judged on what he delivered, not on what he did the last half of his senior year at UK. By then he knew he wanted to be a basketball coach and was pursuing the goal. The degree would have been nice, but not necessary in a practical sense to teaching zone defense.

The unnecessary credential is a self-perpetuating element of academia and the status quo in business. HR directors require degrees where they aren't needed because they can and they rarely make exceptions. Those newsrooms I worked in early in my career, where people had come up as apprentices, were every bit as accomplished and professional as any newsroom I know of today, where bachelor's and master's degrees are required to be editorial assistants, the bottom of the pecking order.

For those of you who see this as a matter of lying, not a credential issue, let us consider some numbers. According to a study by Accu-Screen, Inc., ADP, The Society of Human Resource Managers, 70 percent of college students would lie on a resume to get the job they want and 53 percent of resumes contain falsification. The percentage of resumes that are "misleading" hovers at 78. That's nearly 9 in 10.  None of that forgives the lies, but it gives you an indication that Masiello's resume is not an abberation.

A basketball coach doesn't need a communications degree if he has the skills to coach, to teach and to win. Professional human resources people love one-size-fits-all because it makes their jobs easier. It also leaves a lot of extremely competent people outside the bubble of the credentialled society.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I tend to agree, Dan. But maybe "we" should realize that lying on a resume has consequences, when someone finally checks it out. Surely he would have gotten the Manhattan job and most likely the other one had he not lied about it and just left it off his resume in the first place, right? Yes, everyone does it (or a high percentage anyway), and such things are rarely even discovered, it might be argued. But "we" should all know, in no uncertain terms, that if and when these things are discovered, it will be taken seriously.

    Still pretty good advice--don't cheat and lie, on the court or off. No matter what everyone else does.

    Another point is that, as you might know, even college professors at elite universities used to not need PhDs! There is at least one older member of the philosophy department at Harvard who doesn't have one. Of course, he published a completeness proof for modal logic, a result that had been sought for many years, when he was 17, but still. It wasn't uncommon. You would be laughed at now at even the most third rate of institutions if you applied without a PhD.

    For what it's worth.