Thursday, March 20, 2014

Information to study and consider . . .

If you are like me you're interested in how to ensure that young people experience success in post high school learning and work and so you read a lot and get into the "is college worth it" world.  Last month Thomas Friedman had an op-ed piece in the Sunday New York Times focused on how to get a job at Google where a growing percentage of employees without any college education is growing over time.  He hares insights from an interview with Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google - the guy in charge of hiring.

Getting past the part about grades and tests being worthless criteria for hiring he then shares five attributes that Google uses in their hiring process beyond checking for technical coding ability, about half of the jobs.  I'll  share some of the information below, but Friedman provides more in his piece if you are interested.

  1. For every job, though, the No. 1 thing we look for is general cognitive ability, and it’s not I.Q. It’s learning ability. It’s the ability to process on the fly. It’s the ability to pull together disparate bits of information.
  2. The second, he added, “is leadership — in particular emergent leadership as opposed to traditional leadership. Traditional leadership is, were you president of the chess club? Were you vice president of sales? How quickly did you get there? We don’t care. What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.”
  3. Humility and ownership. “It’s feeling the sense of responsibility, the sense of ownership, to step in,” he said, to try to solve any problem — and the humility to step back and embrace the better ideas of others.
  4. Bock, it’s “intellectual humility. Without humility, you are unable to learn.” It is why research shows that many graduates from hotshot business schools plateau. “Successful bright people rarely experience failure, and so they don’t learn how to learn from that failure,” said Bock.
  5. The least important attribute they look for is “expertise." 
So, how do we ensure our young people leave with these attributes, not just for potential jobs with Google, but because growing numbers of employers are looking for the same ones.  We heard similar attributes from a Boeing Executive with once again expertise being the least important because they can teach that.  what we once referred to as "soft skills" are taking on more importance.  Look fro our revised Outcomes and Indicators for guidance in providing the learning opportunities to support acquisition and growth of these attributes.

But Bock is saying something important to them, too: Beware. Your degree is not a proxy for your ability to do any job. The world only cares about — and pays off on — what you can do with what you know (and it doesn’t care how you learned it). And in an age when innovation is increasingly a group endeavor, it also cares about a lot of soft skills — leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability and loving to learn and re-learn. This will be true no matter where you go to work.

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