The Myth of Credentialism

The logic of getting more education or credentials used to make sense in the past in the industrial economy. Things were nice and neat then. If you wanted a promotion or you got laid off, the thought process of becoming more marketable by getting an MBA, a law degree or another degree altogether could position you for a better track than where you were.

In essence, this kind of thinking was a bet based on companies, recruiters and HR professionals looking at the signals you are presenting to slot you into a known hierarchy. The model and the credentials assume that there’s a nice box you can fit within.

However, if you are paying attention, look at the trends:

  • Companies are getting smaller, not bigger
  • LinkedIn shows a regular pattern of people switching jobs every 3-5 years
  • Older people are expensive and competing with younger talent a fraction of their pay
  • We have access to talent anywhere and everywhere in the world
  • What is working for a company can evaporate next year
  • Anyone can be an entrepreneur now
  • You can learn any skill you want. If you want to, that is.
  • Those at the top and the bottom have access to the same information and tools.

If you want to go $60K in debt to get some more credentials, ask yourself how that fits into the new economy and the trends. It assumes someone values and wants to pay for your new credentials.

What if you took that debt and invested it into an idea instead? Think about the bet you are making. You have the opportunity to put yourself on your own path. You get to learn skills that open the world up to you rather than limit you to someone else’s temporary paradigm for cash flow.

Just because something is working now in a business does not mean it will last for the next five years, much less the next year.

Yes, credentialism is a myth and dangerous bet. You could end up on the short end of the stick over-educating yourself while the world is outpacing your degree and learnings. It’s an old mindset for an old economy.

When you live in a world where someone who does not go to college can make millions if they work hard, learn from their failure and can test their ideas over and over, how does credentialism fit?

What’s your strategy for staying relevant and valuable enough to make the big bucks?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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