Why Hire for Skills Not Degrees
Posted by Des Sinkevich on December 1, 2021
Besides many workers holding out for better pay, better benefits, and even completely changing industries, another, often easier to address issue limiting the number of applicants your job post receives is the level of education required to qualify for the position. Nearly 75% of jobs require a degree or some college-level education – but fewer than 40% of workers meet those requirements. In order to increase the applicant pool, find qualified and dedicated new hires, and address the worker shortage, it’s vital that we reassess the level of education required to perform the job, placing more emphasis on hiring for skills versus degrees only.
How screening for degrees impacts hiring
- Decreasing your available talent pool. A college degree can signal dedication, a strong work ethic, and persistence. Depending on the position you’re hiring for, however, it may not mean that your applicants have the necessary skills to successfully fill the role. While there are many jobs that do require a degree, there are just as many – or more – that don’t. Yet employers still rely on outdated education requirement sections to screen prospective hires, discouraging potentially excellent employees from even applying. With a lack of qualified options from which to choose, open positions can remain unfilled for weeks or even months, increasing the workload on current employees and negatively impacting hiring budgets over time.
- Decreasing the potential for diversity in your company. In the last two years, diversity and inclusion have become important considerations for companies large and small. However, hiring a diverse talent pool is difficult when you screen applicants for bachelor’s degrees instead of looking at their skillsets. In fact, disregarding those applicants who don’t have a four-year degree excludes 68% of African Americans, 79% Latinx applicants, and 73% of rural Americans. Additionally, you’re also excluding two-thirds of American veterans who have industry-specific skills and technical knowledge, but no degree.
How to implement skills-based hiring
- Revise your standard job posts. Most companies don’t write brand new job posts for each open position, especially when you’re constantly hiring. For example, the “requirements” section is often copy/pasted by employers because, in general, those are the qualities you’re looking for in all applicants. But because of this copy/paste culture, the outdated degree requirement still makes its way into posts it shouldn’t. Making changes as simple as changing the word “requirements” to “responsibilities” can have a positive impact. LinkedIn data has shown that employers who list responsibilities in job descriptions without including a requirements section receive 14% more applications than those who don’t.
- Implement ways to measure skills. An applicant has the desired skills listed on their resume, but are they really competent in those skills? To ensure your prospective hires can meet the day-to-day job requirements, a late-stage interview could include a skills test or working interview, depending on the industry. You can also measure skills and job-fit through easier solutions such as unexpected, or in-depth, interview questions.
- Ask about their commitment to continued learning. In roles that are mid- or high-skilled, continued learning is essential to excellent job performance and growth. During the interview process, ask about their interest in learning more to assess if they’re willing to continue to further their education with your company. Besides helping you decide whether or not a candidate is a good hire, education benefits are a big draw for many workers, so it’s a win-win. Additionally, it can improve employee retention. 94% of workers would stay longer with a company that invested in their career and growth.
Why offer training programs for new and current employees
With an impact on hiring, revenue, and employee satisfaction, it’s obvious that besides hiring for skills, making sure to continue growing those skills in-house is vital to success.
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