The Bank of Montreal (BMO) recently released an interesting survey (summarized here) that ranks the qualities that business leaders look for when hiring new grads from college and university. Basically, the ranking is: Personality traits > Skill set > Work experience > References > Degree/school.
Not particularly surprising. Nobody is going to hire someone whose personality is a “bad fit” for their organization, no matter what their degree says or how great their reference letters are. Likewise, a great fit with good experience and skills will get snapped up even if their degree is from the University of Neverheardofit.
I didn’t see any details, but I would assume that this ranking is based on an interview process. How else would one determine the “personality traits”? So what about the earlier stages of a job search, when employers are deciding who to interview? I suspect the ranking remains similar but without the personality traits, i.e. Skill set > Work experience > References > Degree/school. At least, that’s what I usually look for in the hiring I’ve been involved with.
The take-home message? If you’re working on building your career, focus on the top three things (personality, skills, experience). For the degree and school, do whatever works best for you and your situation, because it probably doesn’t matter all that much in the long term. Just my opinion anyways.