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Why You Should Look for Skills and Not Degrees When Hiring Employees

When it comes to the job market, it has traditionally been focused on hiring employees who have the right degrees for the position. In most cases, if you have a degree in your chosen field, you are more likely to land a job.

More recently, however, currently, although having a degree is still important, more and more employers are looking for those candidates who have the right skills. The shift to this way of looking has changed the way organizations look at hiring for the foreseeable future.

Wondering why you should look for skills and not degrees when hiring employees? Keep reading to find out.

The Traditional Approach to Hiring

In years past, to get a specialized job, you had to have the right degree from the right university to be considered for the position. It was believed that the only way you could do the job was to have an educational background.

Most people, as they near the end of their high school career, are focused on getting into the college of their choice. From here, they tend to work hard for the next few years, gaining the education that will help them break into their chosen career.

Once graduating from college, most people either know where they want to work or they begin the job search process. The job search for most ends up with a job in their chosen field.

For employers, when they have a position open in one of their departments, they tend to begin the job search process with a posting. In the posting, it specifies certain criteria that they are looking for, including specific degrees, experience, and skills.

In most cases, those who have practical experience, but no degree, are quickly ruled out of the running. This is even though they may be the perfect candidate for the position based on what they have done in the past.

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Skills-Based hiring can often bring you a candidate that is better suited for the position. 

What is Skills-Based Hiring?

Skills-based hiring is a relatively new process of not ruling out candidates just because they do not have a certain degree. In these cases, the employer is more focused on finding candidates that can slide into the position without a lot of training.

Employers who focus on this type of hiring practice are usually more satisfied with the candidate they can hire. This is mostly because someone skilled at the position is more likely to hit the ground running without a lot of training.

Because of this trend, more and more companies are looking to post positions that are free of degree requirements. These postings are typically based on skills and experience requirements instead.

Why Should You Look for Skills Over Degrees to Fill Positions?

There are several reasons why you should look for skills and not just degrees when it comes to hiring new employees. These reasons are based on the fact that there are many qualified candidates out there that no one is looking at since they are missing key qualifications such as having the right degree.

Are you curious about the reasons you should look for skills over just having a degree? Read on to find out.

Widens the Candidate Pool

When you take away the need for candidates to have a certain degree to qualify for a position you have open, you increase the number of candidates who can apply. This often results in a wider net of individuals that will apply for the position. 

As more and more jobs become available that do not require a certain degree, you will often find qualified candidates that you never would have otherwise. This is a direct result of restricting the talent pool to only several candidates who meet an educational requirement.

Increases Job Opportunities for Minorities and the Economically Disadvantaged

In some cases, minority and economically disadvantaged populations do not have the opportunity to attend college as other people do. This is often the result of poverty and the need to go directly into the workforce to provide for loved ones. 

These groups of individuals often hit the job market much sooner than those who go to college for several years. Unfortunately, they often get stuck in a job that does not seem to go anywhere since they do not have the education required to move up the ladder.

By taking away the requirement for a specific educational degree, these candidates may be able to be considered for more positions. This is one of the best ways for them to be able to rise above their current levels and move forward.

Allows Positions to Be Filled Much More Efficiently

For many employers, finding the right candidates to fill certain positions can be somewhat daunting, especially when they cannot find qualified people. In many cases, this can mean that they either have the education but no experience or experience and no degree.

By opening up the position to a skills-based approach, you will likely find candidates who will be able to fill the position nicely. This often means that they will have worked in the same or similar position for someone else and can seamlessly transition into their new position without any trouble.

Reduces the Unemployment Rate

Between those who choose to not work for various reasons and more stringent qualification requirements, unemployment rates tend to run high. This typically means that there are more people out of the workforce than those in it.

As you can increase the number of employees who are qualified for various positions, you can fill positions much easier. This also translates into the unemployment rate going down due to more employees being able to work in their chosen fields.

Honors Those With Different Mindsets About the Workforce

Depending on the position you are looking to fill, considering skills over degrees can help change the mindset in the current workforce environment. Those who may not have applied to a certain position before may feel better about doing so when they know they may be considered.

This is especially true when you are looking to fill a position internally rather than looking outside of the organization. Those employees who have been in the trenches with the company may be better suited to what you are looking for.

Because of this, when you make it known that you are looking more for skills and experience rather than whether they have the right degree, more employees will apply. This opens up a huge potential for promotion from within your company.

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There are many additional benefits when you hire based on skills. 

Benefits of Skills-Based Hiring

While many have embraced this new way of hiring, many others are wondering what the benefits truly are. Employers often question whether doing away with the degree requirement for most positions is the right thing to do or not.

Read on below to learn more about the benefits of skills-based hiring.

Employee Retention is Increased

One major benefit of using skills-based hiring as a part of your process is that employees you currently have may end up staying longer. This is because the potential for future professional growth may be seen as more than possible.

Most individuals in the workforce sign on with a company for several reasons, including the type of work they will do and also the potential for professional growth. If they see that the company promotes regardless of whether employees have the right degree or not, they tend to stay longer with the organization.

Assists in Stabilizing the Economy

With the insistence that everyone has a certain degree before being hired at various companies, more and more people are left unemployed. Because of this, the overall economy suffers due to not enough people in the workforce.

When you take out the degree requirements but focus more on skills-based hiring, you contribute to stabilizing the economy. This is because when you hire those individuals that normally would not be hired, you are lowering the unemployment rate.

Increases the Pool of Candidates that Qualify for Upper-Level Positions

When it comes to hiring for upper-level positions, most organizations look for those with not only the right experience and skills but also the perfect degree. In these cases, however, the process can backfire since the number of qualified candidates is typically small.

However, if you look at experience and skills and take away the degree requirements, you may find more qualified candidates to choose from. This means that you may find that diamond in the rough employee that you may not have found otherwise.

At the end of the day, it is much better to have many candidates to choose from rather than just a few that meet some of the criteria. You may also find that with the increase of candidates, you may have better luck finding individuals who fit in better with your organization.

The Shift in the Diverse Talent Pool

In this day and age, more and more people are graduating from high school and going straight into the workforce instead of college. For those individuals, it is the right choice for many different reasons including not liking school or even those who are starting families early.

With more and more individuals earning experience and skills in various fields, you tend to have the opportunity to choose candidates who have diverse backgrounds. Even though they do not check off the box of having a degree, they bring to the table many skills that make them an excellent candidate.

Many people in high-profile positions never went to college and therefore do not have college degrees. For those companies who took a chance on them, they have not regretted their decision since these individuals tend to work hard and bring a variety of skills with them.

How Has the Shift to Skills-Based Hiring Changed the Hiring Landscape?

In most cases, since more and more organizations are moving to a skills-based hiring approach, it has changed the outlook for the hiring landscape as a whole. Candidates who would normally not waste their time applying for certain positions find themselves in a unique position.

Those candidates who were previously deemed unqualified, are suddenly considered just as seriously as those who have advanced degrees. This has opened up the door for many more people to get hired more quickly.

Of course, this is still quite a shift for organizations that have built their hiring processes on the fact that certain positions require a degree. However, hiring managers in these organizations have been pleasantly surprised to find that some candidates without degrees are just as qualified as those with them.

Overall, companies who have embraced the new hiring practices of looking for more than just degrees have been able to fill their positions much more quickly than in the past. This is because they do not have to search for months before finding qualified candidates.

Does This Mean That Degrees Are Never Important to Consider?

It is important to keep in mind that this shift does not mean that college degrees are becoming obsolete. If getting a degree is what you desire, there is still a place for you in the workforce landscape.

Most employers use the skills-based approach to widen the playing field instead of shifting to one or the other. The approach just means that candidates will be considered for more than just their college degree in some positions.

The bottom line is that employers who are choosing to open up the hiring landscape to more candidates must consider more than just a college degree. In a job advertisement, they can even list the degree requirements as preferred over required, which sends the message that a degree is not as important as skills and experience.

Ready to Shift to Skills-Based Hiring Over Degrees When Hiring?

Now that you know the reasons that you should consider skills and not degrees when you are hiring employees, you may be able to find a broader range of candidates. Keep in mind that when you are looking for talent, it may be worth your time to consider the current trends in hiring as well as looking for a staffing agency to help you find the right people.

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