Tag Archives: Careers

The Value of Your Degree

There have been multiple articles in the news of late, with the basic premise that the job/education market is changing. There has been an evolution from the idea that every student should have the OPPORTUNITY to go to university, across to the idea that every student NEEDS to go to university.

To some, education has then become an arms race. The trades have been devalued (regardless of truly important role they play in society). And undergraduate degrees have become similarly devalued, becoming a pre-requisite for many jobs rather than an advantage.

There are those who would argue that the very nature of degrees have changed. They say that in the old days, the purpose of a degree was to hone THINKINg skills, and now they are just an extension of the rote learning and memory that characterises the school years: Knowledge without Understanding.

Now, I’m not sure I agree with that position, but I do agree that an undergraduate degree is not the automatic ticket to success that it once was. And I worry that many students are spending years and fortunes in education for degrees that they may never use.

I also worry that, in a country with such a strong ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’, and with such an evident bias against PhDs in commerce & industry (as opposed to academia) that simply doesn’t exist in countries like the USA, then our local students are slowly being squeezed betwen “too little” and “too much” education.

The solution: If you are doing a degree, make the most of it. Use the time at university to make yourself the most well-rounded future job candidate that you can be. More than just concentrating on your academic results, take time for preparing yourself for the workforce:

* Build your networks – through your univeristy and professional societies
* Build your experience
* Take part in your univeristy’s full range of activities. More than academeia, get involved.
* Learn how the job market works. As example, the RACI’s “Understanding the Job Market” video series is freely available here,

Here’s a recent new article about the problem. What are your thoughts?

Keeping Up Appearances

Tattoos. They are a divisive topic for some. To us old fogeys, it seems that every second young person (quite oblivious to the irony) is declaring their individuality by getting a tattoo.

As long as I can’t see it, then it makes no difference to me whether you have a tattoo or not. But the moment that the tattoo is visible, it can become a problem.

Consider these issues:

* Your visible tattoo is making a public statement. That was why you got it in the first place. It declares a message to the world, and it challenges the world to make a judgement about you. But you have no control over what that judgement that will be.
* It doesn’t matter what you intend from the tattoo. It doesn’t matter what you think of it, whether you like it or not. The viewer will form their own opinion.
* And of course, that tattoo is basically permanent. A moment’s whim might end up being a lifetime’s mistake.

When it comes to recruitment, the key issue is that during the early ‘winnowing’ processes, the employer is not looking to INCLUDE candidates. He or she is looking for reasons to EXCLUDE candidates, to get down to a shortlist. For many potential employers, your tattoo could easily be the reason to exclude you.

The key thing is that you don’t need to agree with us fogeys. You might love tatoos, and there may well be some (rare) employers who love them too, even in a professional context (not trades or hospitality).

But I can guarantee you this. There will be not one single employer recruiting a professional role in Australia who will employ you BECAUSE you have a visible tattoo. There will be some who don’t care, and there are a significant proportion of employers who WONT employ you because of it.

And I note that it is legal in Australia to discriminate against a person for having a tattoo, with some exceptions for cultural/racial markings.

So your visible tattoo definitely won’t help you, and it could very easily hinder your job search. And that’s worth thinking about.

The following article presents another discussion of the topic.