How Important is an Applicant’s College Degree When Hiring?

How Important is a College Degree blog

Whether an applicant must have a degree to be considered for a job or not has been a longstanding bone of contention. There are several valid points on both sides of the discussion, but as a human resource professional, it’s important to be impartial and objective in making hiring decisions. You’ll need to evaluate whether or not a college degree is absolutely necessary or completely arbitrary.

The Value of Education When Hiring

The conventional opinion is that education is necessary for every professional job. And this isn’t an unfounded view, as several reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show how workers aged 25 and up with doctoral or professional degrees (from master’s degrees to associate’s degrees) earn the highest median weekly earnings, particularly in highly technical and skilled fields. This is in stark contrast to workers without high school diplomas who make up the bottom of the list. Furthermore, there are higher unemployment rates in populations without higher education.

This could be linked to hiring managers’ overwhelming preference for applicants with a college education, as revealed in a study by the Association of American Colleges and Universities— but this trend is briskly changing. Due to the pandemic, there’s an urgent need to restart the economy, and closing the skills gap is one of most businesses’ top priorities. “Education” has now gone beyond the traditional meaning of the word, and it currently encompasses modern solutions like online learning, bootcamp programs, and certification courses. Without completely dismissing the relevance of education altogether, this has opened up more paths for non-traditionally educated individuals to enter the workforce.

The Value of Experience When Hiring

Several companies have onboarding programs in place, which include on-the-job training. This could compensate for skills that workers are yet to acquire. In an ideal work setting, there should be enough time to train all employees. In reality, not all companies enjoy this luxury. This is why most opt for hires that have vital related work experience. In the case of demanding business administration careers like human resource management or finance management, an applicant should have at least five years of experience. Since these are typically leadership roles, it’s crucial for these workers to have a solid grasp of the functions of each team member and the unit as a whole— knowledge better learned in actual work settings than in college classrooms.

Several skills have to be learned on the job, and this is emphasized in professions that are service and healthcare-oriented. In fact, nearly all healthcare jobs require clinical duties or shadowing tasks before applicants can even be considered for positions. For one, physicians aren’t eligible for specific medical licensing exams without these hands-on clinical experiences, observerships, and residencies. Even for these education-based professions, the importance of experience cannot be overstated. Experiences allow them to build industry know-how based on real situations, beyond the confines of lessons.

Consider all Credentials When Hiring

There’s no question that you want to hire someone who has relevant skills and experiences. And it’s reasonable to assume that a person with a regular college degree will easily fit the bill. However, as we’ve mentioned earlier, there are now alternatives to traditional education and training. While a traditional degree may have been the norm for financial careers like accounting, remote learning has changed this. An online bachelors in accounting is now just as valid, as skills such as strategic and forensic accounting are taught by industry experts using state-recognized curriculums. This means that graduates of these programs are just as prepared to take the certified public accountant exam, and become certified public accountants. Graduates of online programs in other industries are also good contenders for the workforce given that they have the necessary skills and credentials. In today’s modern education landscape, online degrees from top universities must be considered the same as regular degrees. Especially as in the new normal remote education will become increasingly popular for young professionals.

The hiring process isn’t a mechanical one that’s set in stone. The intuition and skills— two things earned through a combination of education and years of experiences —of human resource managers come heavily into play in most cases. We’ve previously identified steps on how to spot potential in applicants, and it’s important to keep these in mind when making hiring decisions.

Whether or not a college degree is necessary depends on the nature of the job and the industry. As recruiters and hiring managers, it’s important to discern whether or not a person— as a whole package with their degrees, credentials, and experiences —is the right fit for the company.

Exclusively written for

By: Rilynn Jovie

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