Why you should take “college degree required” off your job descriptions

Eric Meyerson
8 min readMar 21, 2019
Playground for the elites. (Out of frame: All the work we were doing. So much work.)

The year was 2009. I was 36 years old and applying for a job at Google.

The initial phone recruiter, after warning me that the process would take “two to three months” (and it took all of that), speedwalked through a regiment of screening questions. Everything seemed normal until:

“And what was your SAT score?”

Again, I had just turned 36. And Google was asking me about my performance on a test I’d taken when I was a child of 16. It stunned me for a moment. What did a test I took during my childhood have to do with this middle-management job in B2B marketing?

I eventually got the job. Later when I started hiring people at Google, I found myself navigating a recruiting philosophy that was starkly different from the ones I had encountered before. Google only hired the best people, and to Google that meant high achievement at elite employers and a handful of top universities.

In the early ’10s, I rarely heard the word “diversity” as a hiring objective at Google. Google saw its competitive advantage as hiring elite people, not diverse people. Whenever I tried to hire someone who went to a “second-tier” university or had worked their way up through a less-than-blue-chip prior employer, I often had to fight to get them through Google’s byzantine hiring committee system, even if they aced all their interviews.

As a result, we as marketers tried to understand our customers and users, but we really weren’t like most of them.

Google has since reformed how it recruits and selects people, although its diversity still resembles that of an elite American university without a strong affirmative action program.

Most of the senior managers at Bay Area tech companies, big and small, are still loaded with alums from a rather short list of universities. As someone who started his career “back east,” I can attest that the situation is even more acute over there.

And now we know about rampant criminal fraud in college admissions, in which dozens of wealthy

Eric Meyerson

San Francisco guy, climatetech marketing VP. Ex-YouTube/Google, Eventbrite, Facebook. Not a strong sleeper.