by Nicole Levinson, CMO of Audo
You probably heard the same thing from the time you were young: If you want a good, steady, well-paying job, you need to go to college. No ifs, ands, or buts. It’s not bad advice. Getting a higher degree can open your eyes, expand your abilities, and broaden your network. However, traditional degrees are becoming less of a factor for job hunters thanks to the tight labor market.
The Burning Glass Institute notes that “material degree resets” have been occurring for several years across numerous industries and roles. These resets have only been spurred along as more jobs than candidates become available. The result is that approximately 1.4 million individuals who don’t possess college degrees may still be eligible to snag mid- and high-level lucrative positions between now and 2027.
What does that mean for you and me as startup owners? The writing on the wall is clear: We have to think differently or risk losing talent. Rather than continuing with degree requirements for all openings — a condition that limits our talent sourcing options — we would be better served looking beyond applicants’ formal education credentials.
Below are some of the things to focus on when evaluating resumes if you’re dropping degree requirements.
1. The thirst for continuous learning.
No matter what industry you work within, you and your team will have to constantly change. After all, rampant disruption is the name of the game. So you want employees that are going to be eager to reskill and upskill.
To determine if someone is a lifelong learner, ask about any recent training they took. For example, a candidate might not have a bachelor’s degree but might be able to prove that she loves to learn new skills online or offline by attending workshops, seminars, networking events, etc. Be sure to ask about the titles of these experiences and events so you can see if what applicants are learning will be valuable to your workforce.
2. Alignment with your company’s purpose.
When asked by Gartner, more than 52% of employees have said the pandemic made them think about their purpose at work. In other words, more than half of workers want to feel like they’re contributing to something important or bigger than themselves. This is one of the main reasons your organization needs to have a strong North Star that guides everything your team members do.
During interviews, plan to talk with candidates about your North Star. Create questions that help you understand if their purpose aligns with your company’s. Let’s say your purpose is to help people from historically underrepresented communities be able to purchase real estate as a long-term investment. Weave this into your late-stage interview questions. Ideally, you want to find someone who embraces your North Star and can row in the same direction as everyone else.
3. Skill sets necessary for job success.
Every role in your company requires certain skills for job success. Your sales manager has to be an exceptional communicator and negotiator as well as a rockstar coach. Your accounting crew needs to be detailed, organized, and accurate. Without these skills, those employees couldn’t get very far — and neither could your organization.
Measuring candidates for their skills can be challenging. One way to compare applications fairly is with assessments. Around six out of 10 companies currently use pre-hire assessments as part of their recruiting efforts. Your assessments could be in any form that makes sense, like a written test or a hands-on mock run-through drill of a common event. Just be sure that you’re using the same assessments for all candidates who make it to each stage of the hiring process.
4. Consistent promotions.
You’re sifting through resumes for a position opening at your company. You notice a resume from someone who has worked only in retail. Ordinarily, you would have put this resume to the side. Instead, you dig deeper. What you realize gives you an “Aha!” moment: This candidate kept getting promotions at every retailer.
Someone who has been promoted time and again probably is doing something right. Maybe they’re a natural-born leader and rally the troops when times are tough. Or they might be truly hard-working and willing to tackle anything. If you see a resume with promotions, think twice before putting it into the trash bin. Why jeopardize missing out on someone who could end up being one of your best performers after a little on-the-job experience?
Without a doubt, some professions like those in the medical, engineering, and legal fields will always require a higher degree. But employers everywhere are starting to realize that although degrees are nice to have, they’re not necessarily need-to-have. Keep this in mind the next time you’re trying to fill any positions for your startup venture, whether they’re entry-level, mid-level, or even higher.
Nicole Levinson is the CMO of Audo, a “learn it to earn it” platform built for the purpose of personalized career-building. Audo uses A.I. to suggest in-demand skills required for your success in the career you want – all without the substantial debt that comes with a college education.