Wednesday, May 24, 2006

The half life of credentials

There is a time for everything. The High school you go to, and the extra-curricular activities in which you indulge will help you to get into a great University. Graduating from a great University helps you get into an "academy" company or organization which is known for quality training. That first job will help you to get a wonderful second job. However, if you step off the ladder for any length of time, it is much more difficult to get back. The older your credentials, the less value they have. The homeless Harvard graduate may be rare, but it is possible. If you were to look at a cross-section of people in each age cohort, it would be clear that as the cohorts age, more members drop to a lower level, while only a few continue to rise all their careers.

Over the past few years, I have been quite involved in company and University alumni groups, and it is unfortunate to see that the percentage of members who have fallen off the ladder rises with age. In fact, the higher the 40 year old rises, the higher the proportion who fall off in their 50s. It is easier to maintain the respectable, but undistinguished career than the shooting star.

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