The value of a college degree has been debated for years. Success stories of entrepreneurial endeavors paired with skyrocketing tuition and debt from higher education make a strong argument against the investment. Yet, a minimum of a bachelor’s degree is still required for most professional and salaried positions. So where does this leave the next generation of America’s labor force when faced with the decision of whether or not to attend a four-year college?
In some industries—like information technology, banking, and automobile manufacturing—companies are reporting difficulty filling positions as the economy still attempts to recover from the disruptive pandemic of 2020. In July of 2022, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a high of 11.2 million job openings while 49 percent of business owners reported open positions, according to the National Federation of Independent Business. Additionally, the Great Resignation is not alleviating any of the labor issues these already recovering businesses are facing.
A solution to this problem?
In January 2021, the White House announced limits on the use of educational requirements when hiring for IT positions. The executive order states that looking predominately at college degrees “excludes capable candidates and undermines labor market efficiencies.”
Companies like Apple, Bank of America, Delta, IBM, General Motors, Google, and Tesla have removed the four-year college degree requirement for positions where it is not absolutely necessary, and it has proven to be an effective way to bring in new talent. At Acara, like other talent acquisition organizations, our recruiters are now looking at skills outside the college degree pathway. This equates to more opportunities and better pay and benefits for job seekers without degrees, which now makes up 37 percent of the population.
Build your skills
Skills-based hiring has increased 63 percent since mid-2021 as more organizations place heightened value on experience over a candidate’s academic qualifications.
- Transferable skills: There are specific work skills that most employers value and view as essential and that are transferable to various roles and industries. These include communication, teamwork, IT skills, time management, organization, and problem-solving. “Rather than using a candidate’s level of formal education as the sole indicator of how they will perform in a position, we instead suggest removing degree requirements wherever possible and taking a more holistic approach to recruitment, which involves considering their potential, life experiences, teachability, adaptability, and resilience,” said Remote CEO Job van der Voort. Therefore, be sure to evaluate your transferable skills, add them to your resume, and demonstrate your ability to use them in interviews.
- Certificate programs: Companies like Google look beyond formal university degrees when hiring employees. Google Career Certificates can be obtained for specific roles like data analytics, digital marketing and E-commerce, IT support, and project management. These programs allow candidates to study a focused topic quickly and at an affordable cost.
- Internships: In any field, an internship provides an opportunity for a job seeker to develop industry-specific skills that look great on their resume. Internships allow you to gain valuable experience, learn and grow your professional skills, and build a network of connections. Beyond these benefits, 70 percent of employers offer interns a full-time job at their company.
Leverage social media
As a job seeker, you can now leverage social media to showcase your skills and worthiness in holding a position using these three strategies:
- Audit your social media profiles
Most recruiters factor a candidate’s social media presence into their hiring process. Make sure you maintain a professional image in all aspects of your account. Frequently update your profile with a detailed description of your experiences, involvements, and skills. You must update each platform you are active on so that you are consistent across each. Social media is an affordance that offers the ability to show a recruiter who you are in a way that a paper resume cannot.
- Prove your commitment
People with degrees are often sought after because they are automatic proof of interest or knowledge in a subject or career. To display your commitment to getting hired or a genuine interest in an industry, use social media to stay up to date on trends and recent happenings by following and using hashtags. Sharing your own content and thoughts is a great way to show your passion for a field and something that makes recruiters feel confident in their placement when arranging interviews.
- Strategically engage with people in the industry
Research and develop a list of companies you are interested in working for. Follow the CEO and founders wherever they have a social media presence. Engaging with the company via comments or reposting content is an excellent place to get in front of these companies. A hiring manager wants to see that you are interested and informed about an industry. Being able to reference posts in an interview is a good way to show you are actually engaged. Additionally, consider following and engaging with the CEO and founders of smaller companies—they are more likely to interact back and use these interactions as hiring opportunities.
With low unemployment rates and Biden administration initiatives to relax educational requirements, now is the perfect time to land a great job without a college degree. Update your resume and leverage social media to showcase the transferable skills you have attained through internships, certification programs, and life experiences.
This blog was written by Acara Account Executive Brandon Salinas.