Symetra Financial: An Interview Is Worth a Thousand Diplomas

A diploma no longer is the ticket to a job. It’s the person behind the degree that matters.

A recent Wall Street Journal article pointed out that degrees — and more specifically the subject matter areas in which they are earned — are losing relevance in the workplace, as religion majors become stock traders and geology majors become IT professionals.

At Symetra Financial , a provider of retirement plans, employee benefits, life insurance and annuities, there’s no hard-and-fast rule about degrees. Some employees have more traditional IT degrees while others have sociology degrees, and still others have no degrees.

“I certainly don’t downplay a college degree,” said Craig Edmonds, IT manager at Symetra. “I have a Bachelor of Science, and it’s pretty important to me and creates a lot of esteem. Is it applicable to the job I’m doing today? Was it something that was applicable to me getting hired? The answer to both is ‘no.’

“The thing about a degree, whether it’s a bachelor’s degree, a master’s or a Ph.D., [is] it tells me nothing about how that person’s going to collaborate and work with [others]. The most important thing that it tells me, and this is very important, is somebody started something [and] exhibited dedication to finishing [it].”

Edmonds feels the same about certifications: It doesn’t matter whether they are vendor-neutral or vendor-specific, although Symetra is more focused on the Microsoft skill set.

“With some of the certifications that Microsoft has,…



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