5 things that count more than an Ivy League college degree

A college degree costs as much as 4 new cars
A college degree costs as much as 4 new cars

What makes a resume perfect? An Ivy League degree? A summer saving turtles in Costa Rica?

Turns out many companies don't really care if you went to a top-name college or had a fancy environment-saving internship project.

As a new batch of 1 million bright, driven, hungry college grads look to start their careers, a key question is: What do bosses want from them?

Turns out it's a mix of communications skills, hard work and likability. Here's what bosses at top companies are saying:

1. Google doesn't care where you went to school.

"There's exceptional kids at the Cal State schools, at the University of New York system, at all these other places who have grit and determination and really fought to get there," Laszlo Bock, Google's "people" chief told me. "What we find is the best people from places like that are just as good if not better as anybody you can get from any Ivy League school.

Google (GOOG) used to think grades were important when considering a young hire, "and then we actually looked at the data about what predicted performance at Google," Bock says. Turns out, grades only predict positive job performance for the first couple of years of a career. "They're helpful as a signal, but after that it doesn't matter at all. Whether you're a C student, B student, A student, actually has no correlation with how you perform over time, at least at Google."

2. Top grades don't necessarily make a leader.

Billionaire Home Depot (HD) co-founder Ken Langone's blunt assessment is this: "The world is run by C students."

3. Grit matters.

"There is an unfortunate myth that success is mainly determined by something called 'ability'," Janet Yellen, the world's most famous money maven, told the class of 2014. Instead, passion means more. Employers look for that.

4. Personality counts.

What about the hyper-competitive investment management firm Blackstone (BX)? What is CEO Stephen Schwarzman looking for in his employees? Deal-making? Ruthlessness? An eye for detail? Actually, he's looking for ... nice.

"That's more important than an MBA," he says. (For the record, he does have an MBA from Harvard.)

5. Collaborate.

When asked to rank eight top qualities of job applicants, education ranked dead last in a survey from staffing firm Express Employment professionals. What mattered was the ability to collaborate, solve problems and lead and it's hard to get a degree in those qualities, says CEO Bob Funk.

"Even the best education is no substitute for a good attitude," he says.

christine romans book

Personal Finance


CNNMoney Sponsors