The combination of a labor shortage and reluctance to go into debt to earn a college degree has led to a shift in mindset about qualifications for hiring. When possible, Human Resources professionals are no longer requiring a degree and are instead looking at an employee’s potential, ability to learn, values, or skillset.
Removing the college degree from the equation means that a larger talent pool can be considered for a particular job. It also can help increase diversity, and could make recruitment more equitable.
Having an Open Mind
“We absolutely hire for potential rather than any degree! With that said, of course, I don’t mean a degree is not essential. Instead, our focus lies in recognizing new hires’ ambitious criteria and assessing whether they’d make an excellent addition to our team.
We look for people we can rely on to take the initiative, think ahead, and solve problems quickly—diligent, detail-oriented go-getters capable of effective communication across departments. And when candidates take the initiative and come to their managers with creative solutions, we really start to see their potential. However, there are roles, where a formal education or set experience will be required.
Ultimately, academic achievements and raw talent receive equal emphasis within our recruitment process depending on job demands and preferences.”-Maria Harutyunyan, Co-Founder, Loopex Digital
WATCH: HR and Future of Work
Using Assessments and Considering Values
“At our organization, we believe in hiring for potential and do not always require a college degree. We look beyond what candidates list on their resumes and prioritize assessments that measure personality, attitude, and motivation. We prefer to hire candidates based on the qualities they possess rather than on the qualifications they have achieved.
When it comes to assessing potential, we look for problem-solving skills, critical thinking ability, creativity, and a positive attitude. We believe that these traits are more important than experience or qualifications when it comes to successful hiring.
For us, the potential is not only limited to academic achievements; we also evaluate each candidate’s character and values. We value those who embody our company’s core values, such as innovation and customer-centricity.”-Erik Pham, CEO, Health Canal
Blending Newcomers and Veterans
“When it comes to our team-building strategies, we don’t have any strict, unbending rules regarding degrees or experience. Generally speaking, we aim for our teams to consist of a mix of employees with previous experience and people who are starting fresh. It allows us to have some staff members who already know perfectly well what they are doing and can contribute helpful tricks to our processes, while also training some people from the start, sharing our knowledge, and molding them into employees who fit perfectly into our culture and workplace.
Moreover, this approach contributes positively to our recruiting process, as the pool of candidates we are considering is much larger. Our criteria for hiring include particular skill sets, which we test through a set of recruitment tasks. Another important aspect is the candidates’ ability to fit into our culture. We evaluate this factor through extensive interviews, which include behavioral and situational questions.”-Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People & Culture Officer, HiJunior
Seeking Continuous Learners
“When making hires, we believe that potential is equally as important as a college degree or past experience. We look for self-motivated candidates driven to learn and grow in their roles. We assess applicants for qualities such as good problem-solving, communication, and adaptability to change. These are all signs of potential that indicate an employee will be successful if given the right opportunity.
However, if a college degree is essential for our desired position, we use it as an indicator of professionalism and technical qualifications. Experience is highly valued because it’s one thing to talk about potential, but it’s another to prove yourself with tangible achievements. Ultimately, we make our hiring decisions based on what fits best with both the company’s needs and the individual’s goals, no matter the educational credentials involved.”-Mina Elias, Founder & CEO, Trivium
Potential All the Way
“I 100% hire for potential rather than for a college degree. Honestly, I could care less what college degree you have, unless I ever hire for something related to science or mathematics. For anything related to business, marketing, writing, and more, I can get a good feeling from having conversations with people.
I don’t have specific criteria, but I really trust my gut when speaking with people. I usually can get a good idea of their ambitions, how they may fit into the team, their ability to communicate, the past success they’ve had, and more. If someone is able to communicate, have real-time conversations about business during a conversation, and show creativity in their thinking, I see potential.
I also love to see real ambition and a ‘sparkle’ behind the eye of someone who wants to be given a shot. I look for this and, while it might not be real, I can feel it. I base my decisions on things like that!”-Shaun Connell, Founder & CEO, Credit Building Tips
Positivity Counts Most
“While there has been an increase in the number of applicants who have completed an event management degree, this isn’t essential. The most important thing we look for when hiring is a positive ‘can-do’ attitude.
As a team-building and events company, we need team members who are enthusiastic, happy to get stuck in, and that work well with others. We can easily teach the technical skills needed to be successful in the role, but team fit is harder to influence.
It’s so important that our team is all friendly and approachable. We want our clients to feel at ease and have fun at our events. To achieve this, our team needs to enjoy themselves and feel relaxed and encourage our clients to join in. Someone with a great attitude but less experience can easily become a fantastic asset to a business with a little bit of support, encouragement, and training.”-Natasha Maddock, Co-Founder, Events Made Simple