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Weirdo ads, no qualifications, a career in IT

Weirdo ads, no qualifications, a career in IT

Posted on 5th February 2020

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Famously, as reported, ooh, just about everywhere at the start of January, the Prime Minister’s special adviser, Dominic Cummings, published a recruitment advert, headlined, “Two hands are a lot – we’re hiring data scientists, project managers, policy experts, assorted weirdos…”

This provoked a lot of comment (and a lot of applications).  One interesting line in the ad stated, “You do not need a PhD … we are also interested in graduate students as ‘world-class researchers who don’t have PhDs yet.”

This came to mind because I recently read about how Elon Musk, the boss of TESLA, has tweeted his recent job adverts, making it clear that he’s not interested in your qualifications, just your ability. In an earlier tweet, he mirrored Cummings by stating “A PhD is definitely not required,” adding, “I don’t care if you even graduated high school.”

That said, Musk isn’t looking for just anyone.  He made it plain that successful candidates must pass “a hardcore coding test.”

He’s got history here.  Back in 2014, he told the German magazine Bild-Auto that “There's no need even to have a college degree at all, or even high school," pointing out that Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison didn’t graduate from college.  And they didn’t do too badly…


Without wishing to steal Mr Musk’s thunder, this is something we’ve been saying/seeing at Be-IT for some time now. Companies are starting to be less insistent on the need for PhDs and are also realising that asking for 10 years’ experience in technologies that have only existed for five doesn’t reflect well upon themselves.  In addition, education hubs like CodeClan are geared to taking non-technical people and making them into highly-qualified coders who are ‘oven-ready’ for employers. I’m also seeing more employers searching Github to see what candidates’ personal projects reveal about them. This may be partly due to the much-publicised skills shortages forcing recruitment teams to cast their nets ever-wider,  but it’s also, in my opinion, a pragmatic and sensible approach to ensure that no stone is left unturned in the search for IT talent.

Of course, none of this is to say that undergrad and postgrad degrees are irrelevant, but what it is saying is that the routes into a career in IT/digital are many and varied and, so long as you have the necessary personal attributes (drive, determination, enthusiasm, etc.), then you can come from (almost) any background.  It’s good to see that Mr Musk agrees with us!

Scott Bentley, Expert, Be-IT


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