If you take a look at the listed job requirements for pretty much any entry-level position, you will likely see a college degree is included. Many hiring managers consider this to be a bare-minimum for any applicant, but by including this, you might actually be overlooking a lot of qualified candidates. In fact, not having a college degree may actually make some individuals even more successful on the job.
Why You Should Weigh Experience More Than a Degree
Fixing the talent shortage in your organization could be as simple as determining if a college or graduate degree is truly necessary in order to successfully perform the job functions. Granted, there are many roles in healthcare and other fields that require very specific training and credentials. Those roles absolutely need to be filled with appropriated qualified individuals. However, for the vast majority of open roles in most companies, a degree might not necessarily be needed.
A 2018 study conducted by Manpower shows that 45% of employers and 67% of large organizations struggle to find quality talent. Positions such as IT workers, technicians, administrators, and sales representatives do not learn the bulk of their skills in a classroom. More often than not, they learn what they need to know on the job.
One can argue that the experience of college is important. It allows for exploration and maturity, which is crucial to overall development and long-term learning. Yet, this learning is in a controlled environment and does not necessarily give students the skills required for a highly specialized field. It also does not always give practical, hands-on experience.
One large pool of highly skilled individuals that seem to be most impacted by degree requirements are veterans. While some have college degrees, many do not. However, what they often have are highly technical skills in IT, and experience working in engineering and maintenance. They also have tremendous leadership and critical thinking skills, which are incredibly valuable in all industries – and are skills that cannot be taught in a classroom. Since this group is accustomed to learning in real time, they also tend to be very trainable.
When faced with a stubborn vacancy, take a hard look at the skills and experience that are absolutely necessary to successfully performing the job duties. Does the ideal candidate really need a four-year degree or MBA? Or would you consider someone who does not have a degree, but instead has years of hand-on experience and professional development? The truth is, even someone with a degree will probably need some training. Each new position requires orientation to the organization, subject matter, systems, and/or clientele.
They say that life is the best educator. When looking for your next great team member, consider removing degree requirements whenever possible. Be open to viewing soft skills, experience, and professional development as education. This will greatly increase the pool of candidates for your position and may even help you fill your roles quicker and with better talent.
Lance LeFort is sought out by leaders in Animation, VFX, Video Games, and Digital Entertainment who recognize the need to attract the industry’s best talent. Through LeFort Talent Group’s extensive network of relationships and their “deep dive” qualification process, they are able to identify and secure individuals who represent the top tier of professionals.