An Open Letter to Companies Who Recruit Based on Prestige

To Whom It May Concern:

I really like your product and check your job openings sometimes. I like to see what kinds of positions you need to fill to make your company tick.

However, one line in your job descriptions put a bitter taste in my mouth.

In Requirements, I see that you need “A self starter” and “Attentiveness to detail.” Cool. However, a worthy candidate also needs “a degree from a top tier university.”

To be honest, Ms. Recruiter, filtering out 99.6% of candidates who did not go to Ivy League schools in the job description makes you seem shallow and reflects poorly on you and your whole company.

It says to me, “I am too lazy to screen the candidate for unmeasurable traits like culture fit, relevant experience, and ability to do the job. I will instead make a formula to weed out candidates who did not fit my definition of success when they were 18 years old.” It says to me that you do not care what I did for my university, only what I did in the months before it.

I get why you do it, though. It doesn’t take a Harvard grad to realize that people from prestigious schools are desirable. According to a study by Kellogg School of Management professor Lauren Rivera, hiring managers at law firms, consultancies, and investment banks use a candidate’s ability to get into an elite school (Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Yale) for graduate or law school as a litmus test for intelligence. Here’s the kicker, though: the study found that it did not actually matter to the decision makers how the candidate performed at that school, just that they got in.

Quite frankly, I am mostly concerned for you. You are missing out on diversity, on recruiting a workforce that is representative of your user base. You are missing out on the person who learned valuable skills managing a drugstore while going to school full time or the person who did not do so hot in high school but found his niche planning alumni events for his fraternity.

But hey, at least you’re being transparent about your biases.

Best,
Melanie

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