6

I have been with my current employer for two years and over time noticed a trend (or bias) where recent graduates from top-ranked universities, sometimes with little experience, were hired to higher positions or fast-tracked their way up the organization ladder much more easily.

While I understand that many of these graduates were gifted and well-educated, I am sure that many of them weren't necessarily better performers or harder workers than others. There is also a subtle culture of paying more attention to these graduates than experienced people in the company, and I have witnessed on more occasions how the same mistake done by an average university graduate would be less punished if done by a Harvard graduate.

I am a bit puzzled by this but my conclusion is that there must be some bias, maybe based on expectations about their future performance and contribution to the company...?

However, I truly enjoy the company overall and also my job, so I want to figure out what I can do to stand out among all these Ivy Leaguers. What do they have that I do not have (apart from the degree), and how can I get that or learn that?

If my high performance today is not enough, then what do I need to signal to my employers so I also am seen as an equal?

  • 1
    I expect that the difference is related to their networks and the benefit that has brought to the company or is expected to bring to the company. Also, people who come from Ivy League schools may well come from a different type of family which might convey different interpersonal skills. – Amy Blankenship Oct 20 '13 at 14:41
  • Does the top brass in your company think its value lies in the amount of degrees it can count among the staff? If so, the only way you have to compete with the other guys is to get a degree in a good university yourself. I have worked for companies where academic degrees were the difference between becoming an executive or not because they undertook services for the government here, and in some cases a minimum amount of professionals with specific degrees was a pre-requisite just to compete for the government contracts. – user10483 Oct 20 '13 at 14:46
  • Well, I am trying to figure out what these skills are, so I can also get them to a certain extent. – RiverDancer Oct 20 '13 at 16:45
  • 4
    Most people who lack either the time or ability to judge potential find it easy make assessments that are piggybacking off of a candidate's previous achievements. Cranking out a degree out of a prestigious university (showing that you jumed through fairly competitive hoops to succeed) is simply a safe bet. My company does a similar thing asking senior software people to have Masters degrees. – shivsky Oct 20 '13 at 17:04
  • 5
    It's a culture thing. If you don't have an Ivy League degree, there's a limit on how high you can go at your current company. If you've plateaued in your current job, time to go out and look for a new employer. Hopefully one that promotes based on merit, rather than connections (of course, connections can have their own merit depending on the field -- business development, for example). – James Adam Oct 21 '13 at 13:19
2

maybe based on expectations about their future performance and contribution to the company...?

Yes, there is no doubt it's a bias. Unanimously, to get into an university like Harvard/Princeton/etc isn't that simple. A candidate has to cross all the hurdles, which includes their entire academic history into a rigorous test to keep up their good performance until they pass out the university with a graduation. So the corporate world respect them regardless of whether they have a practical real world experience, knowledge and wisdom.

what I can do to stand out among all these Ivy Leaguers. What do they have that I do not have (apart from the degree), and how can I get that or learn that?

The best way is being an asset, to become irreplaceable, a game changer and a person with values. Even if you learn or get a thing which is a difference between you and Ivy leaguers, it doesn't going to get you awards, appraisals, salary hike, etc., unless you apply it in a correct situation to make the company benefited. The gap between you and ivy leaguers have..and if you fill it, will that help you to win the race? So instead of worrying about the gap, concentrate on your way to win. The way your employer sees you and him doesn't gonna change until you make changes in your company with your efforts. Stick yourself to the goal of company. Check whether your personal goals that are being mutual with your company's goals and values. Work on it. For example: if you are a product developer, invent something which has been never done in an industry, go out and attend competitions to get your work on journals, be a team player at the first place which is primary responsibility. Improve the team's profit as much as you can which should top the list. If you are a business development executive, get a deal for the company which can increase the job opportunities and company's gross turn over.

If my high performance today is not enough, then what do I need to signal to my employers so I also am seen as an equal?

As I said before in the instance of product developer, create a valuable asset to the company. If your performance is not felt enough by the upper level management then it's a negative hit however, you can signal your employer by contributing your skills and efforts on something else like managing a team and helping your co workers to achieve the overall performance of your team etc.

  • 1
    Don't assume that everybody coming out of IL universities got their through hard work, skill and dedication. In fact those people are the minority. Most of these IL grads are legacy, or have rich parents that donated a lot of money to the university. Everybody else got there for being exceptional. – maple_shaft Dec 7 '13 at 21:14
  • Your comment doesn't make any sense for the answer that I have posted as above! – Neocortex Feb 21 '14 at 10:55
1

Payment according to value created is not a given in many companies. I can understand the rationale of a company hiring from well-known colleges, and specially when it comes down to 'fresh-out-of-college' guys, it seems as a reasonable decision.

What I don't get is whether your company is truly interested in rewarding performance, or just creating bad blood by rewarding how well employees socialize with each other. Since the latter seems to be the case, you'll talk with your superior about your career development, if possible. If not, probably you'll be better start thinking about joining another company.

0

"maybe based on expectations about their future performance and contribution to the company"

There. You answered it all yourself. It's also really good for company image that they are recruiting people with such high-expectations.

Note my emphasis too. It's all about expected performance.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.