The Katju Dichotomy: Minimum qualification or maximum experience?
55 per cent of employers people who have learnt on the job turn out to be more effective at their work
Justice Katju’s diktat to set up a committee to assess the minimum qualification for journalists reveals the classical recruiter’s dichotomy of choosing qualification over experience
Saraswati Chandra is an HR generalist in a global multi-national company, and among other things she is responsible for screening candidate resumes. Saraswati receives a set of specifications from the hiring manager and she tries to adhere to the shortlisting guidelines as much as possible. Oftentimes, Saraswati comes across a candidate resume that reflect relevant experience, strong career trajectory, and multi-dimensional skills. Common sense dictates that the candidate is an easy case for selection into the role, especially in these times when the quality bar on hiring is hitting the roof.
Saraswati, however, is faced with a dilemma. Although the candidate resume under consideration sounds like a solid case for candidature, there is one detail lacking. The candidate does not have the requisite academic credentials as mentioned in the specifications sheet. Although the candidate has an absolutely relevant experience in the field and an exceptional track record, Saraswati decides to reject the application!
The dilemma that Saraswati faces is typical of recruiters who shortlist candidate resumes. Organisations often miss out on high value potential candidates because the hiring specs sheet was too restrictive or because the recruiting manager had a myopic vision of the candidate’s capabilities. The lost value of such recruiting mistakes includes, among other things, the risk of hiring a less capable candidate (with relevant academic qualifications) or the greater cost of losing a valuable candidate to a competitor.
The Chairman of the Press Council of India (PCI), Justice Markandey Katju, released a statement on March 2 stating the constitution of a committee to determine the minimum qualification for a journalist. The reasoning behind this radical decision was, in Katju’s words, “very often persons with little or inadequate training in journalism enter the profession, and this often leads to negative effects as they do not maintain high standards.” Needless to say, the move has sparked strong, and angry, reactions from experts and media practitioners.
Vinod Mehta, editorial chairman of the Outlook Group and prominent media personality Barkha Dutt reason that there is no direct correlation between academic qualifications and effectiveness as a journalist. While Mehta reveals the lack of any linear connection between his academic credentials and present profession, Dutt emphasizes a very important point of becoming an effective journalist- learning on the job. Dutt argues that for a journalist, the best and perhaps only training happens “on the field.”
A 2011 survey by the US-based HR service provider, Lifetime, among 2,000 employers reveals that 58 percent of the respondents rank professional experience as the most important attribute for selecting candidates. Only 27 percent of the respondents in the survey actively look for academic qualifications during candidate selections. Not surprisingly, 55 percent of employers responded that people who have learnt on the job turn out to be more effective at their work as compared to candidates who were selected basis their university degree.
While the debate over Justice Katju’s statement is not one that will ebb out soon, it may be a good time for recruiting organisations to recalibrate their hiring specs and investigate what they really seek for in a candidate. Is minimum qualification a greater qualifying criterion than maximum experience?