I can’t tell you how many job descriptions I’ve helped employers and friends write over the years but I can tell you that every single one of them had to include a “designated level of education required”. For some, this is typical. For others, like myself, it leaves a foul taste in my mouth. Let me go ahead and start this post off by adding before I say anything else that some professions obviously require college experience i.e. Doctors, Lawyers, etc. However, one could argue that almost every other profession can be learned at home just as well if not better. I am not saying getting a college diploma isn’t valuable, especially since it’s something no one can ever take away from you. I am simply saying that it shouldn’t be listed as an absolute requirement… here’s why.
If you’re posting a job listing, and it isn’t for a Doctor, I highly recommend that you leave out the requirement of a college diploma and would even go as far as leaving out the years of related experience necessary. By listing those things as requirements you are immediately closing the door to hundreds, if not thousands of well-qualified applicants. In fact, you could be missing out on finding an applicant that would be far better qualified for your organization for other reasons typically ignored by recruiters. If you’re a small company, someone who is self-taught, young and under experienced might be just the right fit! They’ll be hungry to learn, most likely have a bit of entrepreneur in them, and eager to bring new things to the table. In my opinion, those are far more valuable qualities than a related BA or 7-10 years experience. Of course, all of this should go without saying for new-age tech companies who just want to see examples of what you can do.
I encourage you to take a quick peak at the jobs listed on LinkedIn, regardless of what they are, and see if you can find a common thread. In fact, see how many you DON’T qualify for. That’s not to say you wouldn’t apply anyways, but how many would be discouraged from doing so? Point is, how many potentially great employees are you leaving in the dark? Keeping the disclaimer I listed above in mind… a degree should no longer be necessary to fill a position at your organization, same goes for related experience. I always laugh when someone would ask me to write a job description that required 5-7 years related experience and thought to myself “How is anyone supposed to get experience when you need experience to get experience?”. As self-help (no not the dirty kind) resources become more and more available and technology gets to a point where learning almost everything at home from an internet-enabled computer is possible, you will find a new generation of job seekers who for whatever reason didn’t go to college but took the initiative and trained themselves. Why isn’t this seen today as an incredibly valuable trait – taking the initiative?
My hope is that employers will begin to learn from their mistakes, or at least open their eyes to the opportunity they are missing and correct the way they seek out future employees. I’m not saying you don’t have to prefer a college diploma or related experience, just don’t list it under the big bold word: Requirements. If you’re a job seeker, don’t be discouraged by the requirements! Get out there and apply anyways, follow up with your application and be sure you continue to express how you feel you will be a perfect fit for whatever the reason might be.