Should Your Job Posting Require a Degree? 

Until recently, getting a college degree seemed like the best way to secure a well-paying job. But as the pandemic took hold and in-person classes were put on pause, many students began to rethink the importance and cost of a degree. From 2019 to 2022, nationwide enrollment in colleges and universities dropped 8% — the steepest drop on record

But even as school enrollment drops, “degree inflation” — adding a degree requirement to jobs that previously didn’t need one — continues to create barriers to well-paying jobs. 

In a job market that remains tight, rethinking traditional hiring practices like degree requirements could be an effective way to attract more talent, especially since 72% of employers said they did not see a degree as a reliable way to assess candidate skills. But reshaping organizational standards isn’t easy and it requires careful consideration and alignment from leadership. 

Here’s how we suggest you go about your job description revamp, and what methods are proven most effective in assessing candidate competency.

Education Essential?

Certain jobs, such as engineering, are probably more likely to retain stricter degree requirements. However, a sales or marketing role could possibly do without this requirement and still yield a qualified candidate. 

Talent teams should seek alignment with leadership and hiring managers to determine where hard skills are absolutely necessary and if a degree is actually where those skills are learned. Consider adding a “degree or X years of relevant experience” to your job postings to broaden your search. 

Skills-Based Hiring

Skills-based hiring — screening and hiring for applicable skills and competencies rather than educational background — has been a recent trend in the recruitment industry. Companies like IBM and Accenture have implemented this practice and have removed degree requirements from many of their roles. 

This approach to hiring includes skills tests and assessments alongside the typical interview experience to get a sense of a candidate’s hard and soft skills. For instance, a hiring manager might ask candidates for a content creation role to complete a writing or editing test.

At ZoomInfo, we assess the strengths and weaknesses of every candidate, as well as how they compare to their peers through the Bryq pre-hire assessment. This assessment focuses on the cognitive skills and personality traits that make sense for each individual role, and generates targeted interview guides to make sure the process is structured and allows for qualitative decision-making. 

Using the Bryq assessment not only makes it easier for our recruiters and hiring managers to select the best candidates for the role, but it also allows for a wider range of diverse candidates.

Skills-based hiring can be a very effective way to determine a candidate’s potential for success. In fact, evaluating a candidate based on skills is five times better at predicting job performance than educational background, and 2.5 times more than work experience.

Soft Skills Matter, Too

Another way to evaluate a candidate’s potential outside of their credential list is to determine a list of so-called “soft skills” that align with your company’s core values. 

For example, a company that is in a high growth phase or a fast-moving industry like tech may want to look for candidates who are teachable, eager to learn, and good problem solvers, especially for individual contributor roles. Hiring people who are looking to grow with your company can also increase retention and overall job satisfaction.

Growing employees rather than hiring based on a perfect resume has been a longstanding priority for ZoomInfo — and has proven extremely effective. Our account executives who have been promoted from sales development representatives often outperform externally hired AE’s. This is a direct result of investing in our employees, rather than solely hiring developed talent.

Don’t Throw the Job Req Out With the Bath Water

Higher education doesn’t necessarily equal a more qualified candidate, plain and simple. But that doesn’t mean your entire screening process needs an overhaul. 

Removing a degree requirement and implementing a skills assessment can help you land top talent in virtually every industry, increase the fairness of your recruitment process, and dramatically increase retention. In today’s competitive talent landscape, making small but significant changes can transform the speed at which you find and hire talent.