Why Companies Are Hiring And Prioritizing Employees Without College Degrees


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Why Companies Are Hiring and Prioritizing Employees Without College Degrees

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Recent survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that nearly a third of U.S. employers are now considering non-degree applicants for a job, with 37% of employers reporting they are more likely to do so than they were five years ago.


Over the past few years, we have seen that developed soft skills are becoming a leading requirement in different companies, especially in terms of working with other people, for example, being a good team player, a good leader, being able to communicate correctly and align with company values ​​and diversity issues.

Soft skills are often difficult to quantify, which is why many employers traditionally focus on things like degrees and certifications to select candidates. However, in many cases a candidate’s ability to work well with others, think critically and adapt to new situations is more important than their specific background.

In fact, some of the most successful people in business and industry are self-taught, having acquired their skills through hands-on experience and a willingness to take on new challenges. Mark Zuckerberg, one of the biggest names in technology, has turned Facebook into the world’s largest social network. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard in 2004 during his sophomore year to work full-time at Facebook, and remains its CEO to this day. David Karp created Tumblr (which had over 500 million monthly users at its peak) despite not even graduating from high school. Daniel Ek, co-founder of Spotify, dropped out of his engineering degree at the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden after just eight weeks. This list has no end. Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to focus on building his company.


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A high level of soft skills now defines a good employee. Even if a person has a college degree or may have vertical experience in the field but lacks social skills, some companies may prefer a better team player to a beautiful university degree. It brings harmony and promotes team success, not individual success.

When applying for a job, I personally do not even look at the degree. When I conduct an interview, I ask a lot about the different situations in which this person was at work, about different conflict situations, communication processes with colleagues or their direct reports and the rest of the team. I’m trying to figure out how communication will go up at the same level or down. For me, a formal degree is not as important as people’s experience, and positive feedback is given to their flexible skills, work ethic, and communication.

RELATED: 5 Interpersonal Skills Every Employee Needs Today


Change in hiring practices

A number of factors are contributing to this shift:

  • Rising college costs.
  • Increased emphasis on professional skills rather than diplomas.
  • the growing popularity of alternative educational models such as online certificates.

In addition, some employers are beginning to realize that non-degree candidates can bring unique perspectives and experiences that traditional college graduates may not have. Google, Apple, IBM, Bank of America, and other large companies adopted this approach in 2018.

As employers move away from relying solely on academic qualifications, they now have more opportunities to identify and hire highly qualified individuals who can make a meaningful difference to their organization. However, this trend also means that employers must be prepared to evaluate candidates based on a broader set of criteria than they may have had in the past. In addition to traditional metrics such as previous experience, academic achievement, and references, employers should consider evaluating candidates based on their skill set and personal attributes, such as self-discipline and problem-solving ability.

At the same time, employers must ensure that they do not discriminate against potential employees who do not have a traditional academic background. This includes evaluating candidates based on their potential rather than focusing solely on past accomplishments or experience. By taking a more holistic approach to assessing candidates and taking into account the full range of skills and qualities they possess, employers can ensure that they attract a variety of candidates who can add value to their organization.


Recent survey The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that 57% of employers plan to hire more of these candidates in the future. This is indicative of a growing trend in organizations around the world.

RELATED: 8 Interpersonal Skills That Will Make You an Even Better Leader

Soft skills take over

Employers often find that hiring recent university graduates may not always be the most appropriate option for the specific job requirements of their business. Especially when it comes to startups or venture capital companies that require innovative and creative approaches, formal education can be a barrier to thinking or creating a new product/business model. We see that some innovative companies intend to hire people without formal education or higher education because it allows them to be more creative and think “outside the box”, which leads to increased added value.

By the way, fields such as information technology, manufacturing, customer service, business administration, accounting and finance are examples of fields that do not necessarily require a degree, but may favor candidates with relevant experience or qualifications.

A high level of soft skills now defines a good employee. Even if a person has a college degree or may have vertical experience in the field but lacks social skills, some companies may prefer a better team player to a beautiful university degree. It brings harmony and promotes team success, not individual success.

By recognizing the importance of interpersonal skills and focusing on the qualities that really matter, employers can create more diverse and effective teams that are better equipped to meet the challenges of today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

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