Should You Look at Degrees When Hiring?
Earlier this year, Ernst & Young announced that the firm would no longer mandate any particular degree qualification when inviting job applications. This announcement from one of the world’s most noted accountancy firms came after a conclusive observation that college degrees had little do with success at work. Innovations in the fields of education and entrepreneurship have—over a period of time—reinforced the idea that degrees have become almost immaterial in the larger scheme of things.
Related: Do degrees guarantee jobs?
It is next to impossible to find a job ad that will announce with pride, “Degrees not required”. When nearly every job calls for a certain level of educational qualification, it becomes important to assess the value that degrees serve in the recruitment space. With the rapid inflation of educational standards, a degree is not necessarily a guarantee. More importantly, it is not always practical (and possible) for employers to hire candidates with the highest level of education qualification from top-notch institutions.
The following are some relevant parameters to gauge the candidate’s ability to perform.
-The ability and inclination to learn: The most important thing in the current work scenario is for employees to have the ability to acquire the latest skills. Even if your employee does not seem to have it all in terms of skills, the idea is to ensure that s/he is willing to learn and grow on the job.
-Technical skills and soft skills: For a long time, skills were regarded as the poorer cousin of ‘knowledge’. However, knowledge without application is irrelevant when it comes to assessing the candidate’s employability. Apart from role-specific technical skills, the candidate must also possess (or have the ability to acquire) a diverse set of soft skills such as interpersonal skills, communication skills, etc.
-The experience: Quite often, a candidate will have the requisite work experience to perform well on the job at hand. Looking for relevant experience and knowledge outside of traditional degree qualifications is a useful thing to do at the time of hiring.
-Understanding the requirements for that particular job: What are the specific skills and what is the kind of working knowledge that the job calls for? Once you have identified the specific practical requirements for the role, you will be able to assess the candidate more easily. This will help transcend the need for looking at “qualifications”.
There is a need to redefine ‘education’ altogether and to prevent it from becoming synonymous with degrees and qualifications. As recruiters, it is essential to focus on finding exceptional candidates who match your requirements. This, of course, does not mean that you discount candidates with qualifications, but whether your candidate has a degree or not, it is crucial for you to look beyond the same.
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Indu Wadhwa February 11, 2016
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