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Should You Require College Degrees for New Hires?

Posted by Guest Post on Nov 17, 2020 9:15:00 AM


Hiring new employees is no easy feat. You have to take into account a candidate’s background, from their work experiences to their soft and hard skills. However, there’s one part of a resume that’s often up for debate: whether or not an applicant has a college degree.

Is this something that you should require when you are looking at someone’s credentials? With that in mind, this article aims to shed some light on the discussion.

Why You Should Require Degrees

1. Graduates Have Amazing Time Management Skills

Effective time management is a skill that is valued across every field and industry, and today’s graduates have all but perfected this skill. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics found that nearly 43% of undergraduate students also work in an effort to support themselves through school. This has forced them to develop better time management skills. However, time management isn’t just advantageous for juggling schoolwork and a part-time job—it’s also a sign that candidates have a great work ethic. And no matter what course or university they graduated from, this is something that degree holders have in common.

2. It’s a Sign That They’re Remote Ready

The future of work is remote, as current circumstances have shown. And those who pursue a degree, especially an online one, will be more than prepared to navigate the future workplace. Elizabeth Miller, an online bachelor’s degree student from Maryville University, shares that online classrooms have taught her how to build a network from the comfort of her own home. She has also worked in groups, which is a different experience online compared to a traditional classroom. Meanwhile, Karen Barr, an associate teaching professor from Penn State Beaver, echoes this sentiment by requiring her on-site students to meet with her via video streams as this is what they will likely see in the office as workplaces adapt to the new normal. Regardless if your office operates remotely or not, degree holders can adapt more efficiently to workspace changes when the situation calls for it.


3. Degree Holders Have a Background in the Field

This applies more to fresh graduates, but if you’re hiring a degree holder, you’re most likely to get someone with prior knowledge in the field that they’re applying to. This is not limited to textbook knowledge either. Most universities and colleges require their students to take one or more internships before they graduate. This is especially crucial if you’re filling a post for specialized entry-level positions, like programming, accounting, and electronic design. Internships ensure that students are job-ready the moment they step out of campus.

Why Degrees Don’t Matter

1. Exceptional People Don’t Always Enter College

College is expensive, so not everybody has the opportunity to enroll in, let alone complete college. As such, when you pay too much attention to degrees, some candidates with amazing potential might slip through the cracks. In fact, some of the most successful people in recent history — like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg — didn’t graduate from college. Instead, Cheryl Oldham, the senior vice president of the Center for Education and Workforce, suggests recruiters should pay more attention to one’s skills and experiences, rather than their educational background. You can issue a skills test as a part of the application process.

Of course, if you’re hiring someone with no degree or prior experience, make sure that you offer training to ensure their quality of work is at the standard you require from applicants.


2. Credentials Don’t Have to Mean a Degree

A college degree is no longer the only way to earn credentials and show expertise in specific fields. Plenty of organizations are offering certificates, too. For example, aspiring marketers can take HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Course and earn a certificate when they pass the test. LinkedIn Learning and Coursera have also partnered with thousands of organizations and universities that you can take courses from to earn a certificate upon completing certain courses. If applicants have extra money to spare, they could even opt to take a couple of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). MOOCs not only offer certificates upon completion, but students also receive on the job training. If you’re hiring an applicant based on certifications, just make sure that a reputable organization issues them and that the license is valid (you can check this online).


To summarize, companies shouldn’t necessarily require college degrees when searching for new hires. There are plenty of other credentials out there that can demonstrate an applicant’s skills. Not to mention that you can always discuss the applicant with their references for insights on whether they feel they would excel in the position. However, this doesn’t mean that degrees have lost their appeal. Graduates will have learned a lot from their time in college, from field knowledge to unique skills that should be considered. Due to how hard college education is, graduates are also built to be resilient and independent—two skills that you want in a new hire.

The key is to be open minded when hiring, and not judge them solely on their educational background. Pay close to all of their attributes not just a singular credential when you start deliberating on who you want to hire.

For more hiring tips, check out 
our post on the ‘7 Signs HR Managers Miss When Hiring a New Employee’.

The blog is was written by Alicia Murphy and may not be copied or published without PeopleGuru's express permission. Alicia graduated college a couple of years ago and is now enjoying her digital nomadic life as a freelance content creator. Her dream is to one day settle somewhere in Europe and start a digital marketing business.

Topics: Recruiting, Staffing, HR

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