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No Degree, No Way: Why Companies Need to Rethink Educational Requirements in Hiring

Wanted: administrative assistant. Must be highly organized, with strong written and verbal communication skills and careful attention to detail. Oh, and must have a bachelor’s degree – for some reason. 

If only job descriptions were that honest, right? Unfortunately, it is very common for jobs to include unnecessary educational requirements, which results in filtering out perfectly qualified candidates because of an arbitrary mark. 

Throwing up artificial barriers to get a job is not just bad for candidates. 

A report from Harvard Business School found that “degree inflation”—the rising trend of adding a four-year college degree requirement to jobs that didn’t ask for one in the past—is a serious issue. It’s causing the hiring process to become more inefficient and costing companies money. The report noted that most end up paying 11% to 30% more for grads versus non-grads—without seeing significant benefits in terms of productivity, time to promotion, or level of oversight required. 

Requirements for college degrees requirements 

Some jobs do require college-level skills. If your doctor told you they never went to medical school, you should probably look for another doctor. But the key word here is require.

It’s time to move away from the flawed assumption that if they went to college then they must be better suited for the job. In many cases that isn’t true – skills, experience, mentality, may all be far better indicators of success then a piece of paper (hmm…this sounds familiar, doesn’t it?).

Here is a simple test when using the college degree requirement – ask WHY. What is the college degree providing that is required for the position? If a college education isn’t actually required, remove it. 

Keep in mind, it doesn’t mean that college degrees aren’t valuable, they are. But what’s important is what the candidate got out of their educational (or any other) experience, not the fact that they checked the box and got one. So, rather than using a college degree as a stand-in for the skills you’re really looking for, search for those skills directly, through techniques such as situational questions and assessing skills. 

Want to know whether a candidate is right for the job without getting caught by college degree bias? Try Our software solution measures what a candidate is capable of, only revealing their resume (and education pedigree) to you after they’ve proven their abilities. 

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