The Movement to Remove Degree Barriers is Building

Rachel Ludwig
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For decades, there’s been a common ideology that getting a college degree guarantees you a good job. However, this hasn’t been the case for all college students since the early 2000s. With tuition rates on the rise, many high school graduates are considering options beyond a traditional two-year or four-year college degree. From certificates to boot camps to social media platforms, there are many credible ways for job candidates to develop and showcase skills in the digital age. 

As an employer looking over new resumes, consider a few things: 

Take a look at a candidate’s hard skills. If a software developer includes Java, C++, and SQL on their resume, does it matter if they learned those coding languages in a college classroom or at home via guided tutorials? Instead of setting aside their resume because they don’t have a degree, carefully review any examples they’ve included of previous work on apps or projects to see what they’ve been able to learn on their own.

Sometimes employers see a college degree as an indicator that a candidate has the motivation to complete a long-term goal. However, consider other ways candidates can show that motivation outside of the classroom. Perhaps a potential hire for your podcast studio has been hosting their own podcast for several years and has recorded their journey over social media. If they have built solid listener stats and can demonstrate growth for their personal project, that’s a hire that is uniquely motivated for your position. 

Demonstrated Knowledge
A robust portfolio is another solid metric by which to measure a potential candidate who doesn’t have a degree. If you’re hiring for a position that requires creative work, it’s sensible to judge your candidates by the work they’ve actually completed. A degree in fashion, writing, or art is an excellent indicator of skill, but so is a great portfolio of well-written articles, an amazing lookbook, or a website full of brilliant paintings or digital designs. If a potential hire’s style and examples match up with the work you are looking to complete, they could be a fantastic match for your position, degree or no degree. 

Focusing on these areas is a great way to find the best candidate for your job listing, without requiring that they have a college education. There are numerous social and financial barriers to higher education and it’s understandable that young people and those making career transitions aren’t keen to take on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. 

A lack of a degree doesn’t equate to a lack of ambition, drive, curiosity, or talent. If anything, it can be equally, if not more impressive to find a candidate that has sought out expertise and developed a skillset outside of the traditional system. Hiring practices need to continually adapt to source the best, most qualified candidates who can do a job effectively. Instead of viewing a degree as a necessity, it’s good to view it as one of many reasons a person might be suited for a position.


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