Here's What Really Matters In Diversity In Educational Backgrounds

The modern workplace is undoubtedly now a more diverse environment. We see greater participation from a wider cross-section of society with both old and young and different cultures and ethnicities being part of the workforce. However, diversity does not end here.

There is a growing trend amongst organisations to hire people from different educational backgrounds for roles that were previously designated for people with specific qualifications and disciplines. Such diversity in educational backgrounds can spur innovation, provide a much-needed creative approach to problem-solving and even reveal opportunities that were not visible before. However, it also comes with its own set of unique challenges. It can be harder to assess such candidates using a conventional approach and finding a suitable candidate can become extra work. But is it worth it in the end?

It’s all about the core skills

Whether or not it’s sensible to hire a candidate with a non-standard education background for a particular role depends on the core skill requirement of the job. The key to success here is in knowing who can fit in and who cannot. For example, for a sales job, the key skill might be the ability to sell a product rather than having in-depth knowledge about the product (which might be learned on the job). Similarly, someone with an engineering or even a physics background might do well in finance and provide a rather different way of doing things compared to someone with a business degree.

Such a diverse range of talent can bring to your team creative synergy, where the sum is greater than the individual parts. Diverse teams provide a multiplicity of approaches to problems and diverse mindsets can prove to be much more productive and innovative. By casting a wider net, the employer is also likely to get to choose from a much larger talent pool. It is still important to have relevant filters in place to screen for certain traits, but the willingness to look outside the box can yield great results.

Managing diversity

In order to effectively succeed with this strategy, it is important to approach the hiring process with an open mindset. For instance, to select from a diverse set of candidates, it would be helpful to have a diverse set of interviewers. As another example, the approach or the thought processes of a candidate to solve a problem might prove to be more insightful than the actual answer. This is especially true for dynamic roles which require out of the box thinking on a daily basis. The idea here is that knowing how to tackle a problem might be more valuable for a role than just knowing the correct answer beforehand.


Hiring candidates with non-standard educational qualifications for different roles can be both challenging and rewarding. Some managers might be apprehensive due to the additional risk it carries. But if managed properly, it can lead to a much healthier work environment and provide creative synergy across the entire team.

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Cultural Diversity in the Work Place: Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t KnowHow to Break the Glass Ceiling in 4 Easy Steps, Mind the Gender Pay Gap – The Important Role of Recruitment Firms.


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