Hiring demands are helping to shift employers’ views on candidates’ academic experience

Are You Looking for the Right IT Background? - Talent IntelligenceA college degree has historically been a basic prerequisite for many IT — and other — high-paying jobs; and that may still be the case at a number of organizations.

A 2018 assessment conducted by the Association of American Colleges & Universities found 82 percent of executives and 75 percent of hiring managers feel it’s very important or absolutely essential for individuals to complete a college education.

In certain fields, however, employers’ hiring needs are outpacing the amount of available candidates with a four-year degree.

Thirteen percent more computer and IT jobs were available in the U.S. from 2002 to 2012, for instance; yet the number of computer and IT degrees students completed during that time period actually declined by 11 percent, according to research from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists.

CareerBuilder noted the drop may partially be due to tech workers obtaining training through more informal programs. Coupled with the escalating demand for talent in the information and communication technologies sector — 41 percent of organizations expect to expand their workforce through 2022, according to a World Economic Forum report — the trend could cause the amount of companies that don’t require a degree to increase.

Today, a number are focusing on factors other than a traditional degree when assessing potential candidates.

Could your organization benefit from one of the following approaches?

Considering alternative credentials

Even if a college education isn’t a set requirement, employers often want candidates to have some sort of recognized qualification.

Human resource leaders that participated in a Learning House survey identified tech and IT roles as the hardest to fill. All but one percent said they’re open to hiring candidates without a four-year degree — the largest percentage (66 percent) said they’re willing to consider candidates that possess a recognized certification; 47 percent are amenable to hiring jobseekers who have degrees from massive open online courses — and 24 percent will consider jobseekers who have a digital badge, instead of a traditional degree.

Prizing real-world practice

IBM’s vice president of talent told CNBC in 2017 that roughly 15 percent of the individuals the company hires in the U.S. do not have four-year degrees. In lieu of graduating from college, IBM reportedly looks for candidates that have some training, such as vocational classes — and hands-on experience.

fancycrave-277756-unsplashOffering educational opportunities

In addition to finding the majority of the hiring managers and executives it spoke to support candidates having a four-year degree, AAC&U’s research indicated many of the same respondents do not feel a college education currently imparts the skills students need to be able to advance in the workplace.

Just 34 percent of executives and 25 percent of managers believe most recent graduates possess the knowledge and skills to be promoted. As a result, employers that are determined to hire candidates who have completed college — along with companies that don’t require a degree — may want to consider building additional training and mentoring opportunities into recent grads’ workplace experience.

Even if new hires have the necessary technical skills to perform their job, many employers are placing a greater emphasis on the importance of soft skills in the workplace; 57 percent say proficiencies such as communication, leadership and collaboration are more important than hard skills, according to LinkedIn data. And not all employees have them: Organizations that participated in a separate LinkedIn survey identified soft skills training as their top 2018 talent development priority.

For more on ways employers are approaching recruiting, view our blog posts about using gamification in recruiting, finding the perfect candidate culture match, revolutionary recruitment campaigns several companies have created, how to know if a candidate is right for a leadership role — and three issues that could be causing your company to provide a less-than-ideal candidate experience.