Credentialism is, probably, society’s biggest problem – yet, nobody talks about it. 

Most probably, because a lot of people are taking advantage of them.

What is it?

As you’ve surely experienced plenty during your professional life, titles oftentimes mean nothing. 

By “titles” I mean every label that can be used to confer prestige to something/somebody – be it so an award, a job title, or an educational degree.

Here’s some examples:

  • A manager who can’t manage
  • An award that doesn’t signal excellence
  • A university degree that doesn’t help you find a job
  • A university graduate not able to be immediately productive

Why did we come to this?

Two main factors:

  1. Wealthy society
  2. Dishonesty

Wealthy society

Within a struggling society, failure means risk for your wellbeing – for instance: you could rapidly starve to death if you’re not actually skilled in farming. 

Whereas, within a wealthy society, there’s plenty of extra resources with which one can make a living – for instance: within a company of 10000 employees, it’d be fairly easy to slack unseen. 

Dishonesty

Humans are extremely gullible through social statuses. So, many decided to hoard prestigious labels in hope that it’ll grant them power without having to work for it – think of it as some sort of “stolen valor” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_impostor ) within a workplace.

What are the consequences?

Unfortunately, consequences are pretty dire. Here’s the most immediate ones:

It’s borderline impossible to create a company

Companies require productive people. If education degrees and job titles mean nothing, it means spotting the productive people you require to create an effective company becomes a titanic task.

Economies become financial bubbles

When companies cannot be productive, they resort to corruption. Corruption is, unfortunately, piling up mistakes – and those mistakes, one day, will create an avalanche underneath which someone will die.

More info at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_bubble 

Social unrest

If people do not have means to make an honest living (a work that earns them resources as a reward for having helped someone else), they will resort to a varyingly hostile degree of predation (earning resources without helping others). 

Very simple example: 

  • If I want to have part of your money, I can
    • become a very good dentist, and have part of your money as reward for having fixed your cavity (honest work)
    • become a mediocre dentist, and hope you won’t notice and pay me nonetheless (mildly dishonest) 
    • rob you (dishonest)
    • make sure the government makes you a persona non grata, so that you can be stripped of your resources and have them reallocated to me (extremely dishonest)

This, obviously, generates social unrest. For the very simple reason that societies, in order to be stable, require trust. If that goes away, you’d be surprised by how fast we can bid farewell to civilization ( here’s a good reading about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Gulag_Archipelago )

Imposter syndrome

You might have a title that says otherwise, but if you’re an idiot your conscience will know – and punish you for it (more on this athttps://lmkprod.com/what-impostor-syndrome-is-how-to-fix-it/.

The solution

Pretty simple, fortunately.

If you’re a worker

Stop thinking about the title and think about how to become effective at work. How to become the best at what you do. How to explain to your potential client/employer why you can help them.

If you’re an employer

Ask only about effectiveness. Skip altogether whatever title they might be hurling at you. For instance: 

  • Hiring a marketer? Ask about ROAS.
  • Hiring a musician? Ask to be invited in their studio and hear them playing.
  • Hiring a project manager? Ask them to see a project management suite of a past project of theirs.

This also requires you to be very knowledgeable in the field you’re hiring in, of course – almost as much as they are. But, unfortunately, you have no choice: either you are, or you might be hiring the cancer that is going to eat your company up alive.

The “cheat” solution if you’re an employer

Truth to be told, there’s a “cheat” solution if you’re employing but not in fields you’re proficient in (which, unfortunately, is very likely: we can’t know everything): be extremely proficient in psychology, and evaluate your candidate’s honesty.
It’s REALLY hard, but feasible. More on this at: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Five_personality_traits 

http://hexaco.org/

Be aware that this is an extremely complex task: forget about making your candidate fill in a form (I wrote an article about it, some times ago: https://lmkprod.com/why-audience-tests-do-not-work/ ). You’ll have to be able to truly understand people in a real world scenario – the infamous “being judgemental*”, but in the honest way.

 

*super interesting topic! And somewhat correlated to this article: people hate being judged because it makes them face their responsibilities – a painful exercise, and potentially dangerous when they’re lying about their competences.