It’s no secret that the unemployment rate is low. Companies are struggling to find and retain good talent. However, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity,” as Albert Einstein once said. There is one hiring technique that can create both opportunity and a competitive advantage.
No college degree? No problem!
In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that only one in three American adults held a bachelor’s degree or higher. These statistics are startling: employers miss out on a lot of potential candidates by requiring a degree.
KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), Ernst & Young (EY), Deloitte, and IBM are just some of the companies that have been leading the way in de-emphasizing formal education in the hiring process. Deloitte hides the candidate’s university from recruiters. EY has eliminated the requirement of a college degree altogether. IBM reviews an applicant’s experience, technical knowledge, certifications, and other skills/programs but doesn’t take into account educational background. About 10 to 15 percent of IBM’s new hires do not have traditional four-year degrees.
Some benefits of hiring without a degree are clear: it diversifies your talent pool, reduces biases, and focuses hiring managers on attributes that positively correlate with strong job performance. All that being said, there will always be certain positions that do require a degree. For example, in most states, one must have a four-year degree to take the certified public accountant (CPA) exam. Basically, a degree may be necessary if the job skills are learned in school. For most jobs, however, previous relevant experience is a much better predictor of success than having a particular degree. A maintenance engineer, for example, doesn’t learn how to fix a boiler in school; they learn that on the job.
I know what you are thinking: you want to hire someone who can be promoted internally to positions where a college education would be necessary. This may seem reasonable, but be careful: this type of policy could open you up to claims of disparate treatment. In Griggs v. Duke Power Co., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that education requirements cannot be prospective in nature and can only be applied for the employee’s or applicant’s current role.
Interested in leveraging this candidate pool? Here are two steps to help you get started:
#1) Look at your data: Take data from the hiring/selection process and compare these to employee performance. Does a degree account for a big portion of your best performers? Or, do your best display certain attributes—willingness to learn, flexibility, teamwork, or time-management?
#2) Review your positions: Are there any jobs at your organization where you could substitute experience, skills, or other technical knowledge for a degree?
One final thought:
If you cannot eliminate the degree from your positions, but the skill set you are receiving from college graduates is not meeting the job demands, consider reaching out to colleges/universities and let them know what you need. This could potentially be a good partnership for both you (as the employer) and the college or university.
For additional information on the miseries of low unemployment and the rates in your region, click here.
As always, if you have questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.