When Your Qualifications do not mean Real Skills

15 July 2017 | Posted by Deepak Shukla, Assistant Professor, School of Computing & Decision Sciences, Great Lakes International University

The Sad Observation

Just about a couple of weeks ago, while interviewing candidates for an entry level position, we were treated to enough disappointments. We needed a professional who could proactively engage our partners, drive initiatives and cultivate institutional relationships.

The candidates who appeared for the interview, represented various backgrounds ranging from B.Tech in Computer Science to M.Sc in Microbiology etc. They had worked odd jobs in the last few years and were seeking “convenient opportunities” to earn some bucks. It was disheartening to see these “Qualified” candidates for a few reasons:

1. They had no idea of what kind of jobs they wanted

2. They did not reflect the skill sets, which one would expect them to acquire post their qualifications

3. Most of them failed miserably at forming views and putting forward a case for themselves in a positive light

4. Their qualifications had no correlation with the job description

5. They lacked passion and critical thinking

6. They were ready to work for “ANY” salary bracket

In fact, the following quote aptly summarizes all the candidates that appear for interviews,


“I would segment professionals into the fearfully unskilled, the competent and the truly

skilled ones. ”— Mr. Karthik Gopalan (VP, Student Affairs at Great Lakes International



The Great Job Description

In the age of specialization and expertise, it is very difficult to write the ideal Job Description (JD) for any given position. HR managers keep sending super-specific JD’s to our inboxes all the time in the hope of finding the perfect candidate. They tend to write such long job descriptions in the hope of including all possible skills and requirements that they’d like to see in the ideal candidate. However, it is worthwhile to note that,


“Qualification is only a small keyword in the entire Job Description.”


So, your hard earned degree finds such a small place in the all-important JD? That’s right. The fact that your qualification is a match, is only the first step towards finding an opportunity for yourself in the job market. So the question is “What do job descriptions contain apart from required qualifications?” It’s a very simple answer — required skills. And it’s a combination of both hard and soft skills that the employer is seeking to find out.

The Visible Gap

Qualifications do not guarantee success — As discussed in the recent article titled “Meal- ticket majors in college?”, Prof. Tony Chan (President, The Hong Kong University of Science & Technology) discusses the hype surrounding “Meal Ticket Majors” which translates to the much prevalent belief that a degree in a few selected subjects will give students better job prospects and income. Examples of millions of graduates taking up odd jobs rightly bust this myth.

“As an educator, I have always believed that what one majors in college does not

necessarily determine career success.” — Prof. Tony Chan

Ideally, student experience while pursuing a quality professional degree should have both tangible and intangible outcomes w.r.t the skills that they learn. Well, for the good part, all institutions readily agree to achieve this goal. But for whatever persistent reasons, NOT MANY institutions of higher learning actually create such student experiences and eventually, The result is millions of students graduating every year with a skill-less qualification with the hopes of finding a skill-full job.

This is the skill and learning experience gap that needs to be filled.