APRIL 16, 2019

There’s a myth circulating in the halls among tired and disheveled students: Graduates of UP, Ateneo, De La Salle, and the University of Santo Tomas are preferred by employers across the Philippines - resumes of applicants from these schools get filtered to the top and receive favorable treatment during the hiring process.

Like many things in life, this statement is only as true as you make it: You can choose to be limited by where you went to school, or you can rise above others on your own merits. Here are four ideas to inspire you on your journey to standing on your name and name alone.

The Big Four are not as big as you think.

Employment in the 21st Century is an entirely different (and improved) landscape. In fact, state-owned Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) had already surpassed the big four in terms of employers’ preference for new graduate hires, in a survey conducted by Jobstreet. Joining the top ten schools preferred by employers are two non-NCR institutions - the University of San Carlos and the University of Cebu.

According to the 2018 Fresh Graduate Report, the school preference of employers is based on their belief in the reputation of the school for producing quality graduates. These new developments in school preference support the idea that it is no longer about how big or popular your university is, instead, it is about how good their fresh grads turn out to be in the workplace.

It’s your skill, not your school.

You don't have to worry too much about what college is written in your resume since it does not hold the same weight in the hiring process as it did before.

Employers nowadays value skills that are, more often than not, acquired outside of the traditional tertiary education. An example of this would be communication skills in varied contexts. In school, you may have learned written communication in the form of essays, persuasive articles, and thesis. But it's easy to bet that you have also learned on your own different communication strategies stylized for your Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram photos, and LinkedIn profile. This skill is not something you may get out of a typical college curriculum, but rather in your everyday encounter with technology.

Interdisciplinary knowledge is another example of a valued aptitude by employers. There are company roles where a master of one trade might not be a good fit, but instead, the "jack of several trades" might be able to provide the skills the position requires. Posts such as marketing officers, engineers, teachers, and even writers are just a few of the roles that require specialization in more than just one field. Journalists, for example, need a bit of background in photography and videography, as these could be useful in situations where they find themselves in a one-man news team.

Businesses across industries also saw a rise in the demand for data-skilled talent. They are ones of the most flexible talent in the market as they possess the skill that any form of enterprise could benefit from: technological aptitude. From manufacturing to customer service, banking, education, consumer goods, transportation, and communication, to food and agriculture, all these industries will always need the ability to analyze data.

It’s your character that matters, not your alma mater.

You don’t have to stretch your budget for education to have a bigger chance at employment. You merely have to keep honing in the skills you are passionate about or the ones you already excel in because those skills and passions are exactly what employers are looking for nowadays.

More important than these skills is your character that actually matters in the hiring process. Excellent work ethics, trainability, attitude towards failures and challenges, and the capacity for collaboration are just some of the values that truly make an impact in the workplace. Companies are not interested to know what school you came from; they are more interested in what and how much value you can contribute to their success as a company and to yourself as a professional.

Employers even care if you have a vision for yourself more than your enthusiasm for their company. If they observe that you have a long-term vision to improve your work quality and to continually hold yourself to a higher standard, then they would be satisfied that you will bring a positive change to the workplace.

On this note, you might want to focus more on your character than overthinking whether you will stand a chance in employment based on your alma mater.

There’s a revolution ongoing.

Today is the age of technological revolution. Businesses are scrambling to transform their paper information into data and optimize their operations through digitalization. In addition to this, they constantly face rivalry with tech startups that constantly disrupt the ways we used to do things.

This changing landscape challenges employers to keep up with the demand for unique talents who are the key to keeping their businesses afloat and competitive.

Apart from the change in the needs for human capital, the revolution also brought about a paradigm shift in career building. In the past, fresh grads used to envision building their career in vertically, like that of climbing a ladder. The way to “make it” in your industry is to start in an entry-level position then work your way through promotions until you get to the senior management level. Success meant getting to the C-level (CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, etc.) in your company.

This ideal couldn’t be any further from today’s career building perspective. Anyone in their 20’s can declare themselves in a C-level position whenever they want if they choose to build a business of their own. There is no longer a need to wait until your 50’s before you become a company leader. In case you don’t peg yourself as a leader, there are more career options out there that you could easily fit into, big four graduate or not.

Along with this ongoing technological revolution is the increasing need of businesses for dynamic individuals. It doesn’t cut it anymore to be just good with what you do, you have to have the energy to keep making things happen and to push forward new ideas and innovations. Employers do not look for meek, passive employees. They look for the ones who can change the game for them. That could be you!

So fret not if you didn’t graduate from the big four. It is not your school anymore, but your grit and hunger for excellence that will dictate your place in the industry.

APRIL 16, 2019