Should Employers Still Require College Degrees?

Recently, Wall Street Journal has published an article and the title explains it all: Some CEOs Suggest Dropping Degree Requirements in Hiring.

This is a realistic perspective we are looking at since many college graduates are coming out with a degree and no job, while employers are having a hard time filling certain entry-level positions as well as higher-level positions due to unrealistic job descriptions that make it a competitive job market for many.

Should degrees be immaterial? Because the focus should be on hiring the right person. In many cases, degrees are seen as a petty economic development scheme and that is the belief on how much talent gets passed up. There is a saying in the HR world, “I can teach you the treasury and payments pieces you need. The things I’m looking for are not taught in school.” However, many HR staff nowadays are not qualified to sift through applicants to find the right candidate, but only the right keywords. This calls for a need to change the practices and lower the keyword bar to allow more applicants to be seen.

This trend doesn’t apply to all fields however, since for instance, the tech world’s insatiable demand for tech workers and coders. Tech giants like Amazon has never required a degree for line workers in their distribution centers. There will always be the discussion of providing skill training or education in colleges and career preparatory schools.
Also, for STEM field. Will corporations train workers only on the niche requirements of the job?

Here is something to consider, if CEOs and hiring managers were to drop degree requirements — this will require manager conditioning since they link it to the likeliness of the success of an individual in a particular role. Many individuals have graduated with a degree but have never directly worked in their field of study as long as they have the applied skills and meet their requirements/qualifications, which questions the relevance of a degree.


Here is how others have been responding to this topic and this resonates with a lot of employers and job seekers.

  1. “College degrees have long been used to screen in and screen out prospective employees. Diversity issues aside, removing the requirement theoretically would certainly open up the talent pool for candidates. For employers, not requiring a degree would address the labor shortage across industries.

    On the flip side, people with degrees have also found it challenging to get hired. In reality, people even with the right skills and experiences have challenges finding employment which goes beyond the degree/no degree topic.

    The real problem is that employers have done themselves and workers a huge disservice with unrealistic job descriptions and hiring practices. Much of this has been done to combine multiple roles into as few as possible, while others have wage levels that hinder recruitment. Then on top of that, the business of hiring has gradually lost the human touch with an over-reliance on automated screening tools. Unless you use the right words, phrases or even the right font, you’re screened out.

    While degree/no degree is an interesting issue, the change needs to go deeper into hiring practices.”
  2. “I’ve been gainfully employed for over 25 years without a 4 year degree, until this strange time of Covid. I’ve never experienced the challenges this time is seeing with the automation, key word and degree requirements which have made job searching a heart wrenchingly difficult experience with very little ability to by-pass the ‘Black-Hole’ that these systems have created, despite having a Master’s Degree level of hands on experience. It is a huge dis-service to organizations needing to full positions and the economy.”
  3. “An ‘overhaul’ of recruitment/hiring practices is very much needed, as in this area new technologies have made it impossible for anyone to show their worth. Algorithms are destroying job prospects and careers before they’re even started. We are reduced to key words and phrases instead of people.”
  4. “When I was looking for a role I quickly realized that some major corporations have outsourced their recruiting to the lowest bidder, which doesn’t always produce the best outcomes.

    Then there is the infamous ATS. It was disheartening to know that human eyes weren’t reviewing my resume, now the algorithm decides whether I would make it to the next round based on the number of times the exact keyword shows up in my CV.

    I feel that some companies use frightening job duties and requirements to thin the applicant pool. I have abandoned applications due to the 30 bullet points on roles and responsibilities that didn’t sync with the salary and I didn’t want to work 14 hours a day.

    Dropping degree requirements and training people for career progression on the job is a great start, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
  5. “I feel there are too many ‘requirements’ on most job postings today; even if you do have a degree it may be in a different major, or if you have experience it’s not enough experience, etc.
    Many job postings intimidate potential applicants, not to mention force marginalized people to attend for profit schools (VERY expensive vs. state schools), while accumulating massive debt because they are easier and faster to get into than a private or state school where you need transcripts, essays, recommendations, etc.
    Most working adults don’t have the time or resources to even start the process, not the mention the ability to take classes in person (state/private were late in offering virtual learning programs.”
  6. “The arbitrary rules regarding college requirements for most of the entry-level positions created by outdated systems that no longer reflect our society hasn’t made sense for quite some time. In addition to these requirements, we often ask for candidates to have 2-3 years in experience that many wouldn’t have. It’s truly hard to address the gap in opportunity if some of the world’s most prominent employers aren’t rethinking their stance.”
  7. “Can’t wait for them to drop the ‘mandatory required’ 3-5 years of prior experience at appear in most entry level positions. A real barrier to entry is not the degree, it’s the ‘requirements’ that are out of step with the duties of the position and are used as a way to acquire skilled labor without training or workforce development investment.”
  8. “Having a degree doesn’t make you more intelligent than someone without. Many people moving up in a company gain valuable experience but at some point can reach the glass ceiling of ‘degree’.
    There seems to be many glass ceilings a company can implement to create the illusion of talent but in effect it is exclusivity.
    A degree doesn’t make you a harder worker, more dedicated worker, a worker that has the innate capability to solve problems or even the desire to take on challenges and find solutions.
    A degree is just a piece of paper to create a hurdle to jump over or a way to narrow the interview process and candidates.
    Many people without degrees start their own company doing work they were not allowed to get compensated for from a corporation.”
  9. “To me we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the cost of higher education was controlled, because I think we can all agree that more education is better than less. I don’t think the answer is necessarily don’t require degrees, but rather create opportunities for people to get them more affordably and maybe even faster. It can be done if we all believe in it. Free community college. Low interest rates on federal loans. Innovative fast track programs. And probably many other things that I cannot think of right now.”
  10. “I see this as a double edged sword. For many places it is simply gatekeeping as a barrier to entry since I have always assumed that the reason for requiring a bachelor’s degree of a candidate was some sort of proof that you can accomplish a task. On the flip side of the coin I have a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. There are many jobs that are asking people to have a master’s degree and then only wanting to pay $15 an hour.”
  11. “In some ways, the college degree has historically functioned as a screening device in the workplace rather than a realistic determinant of a job candidate’s ability. Dropping the requirement for a college degree for certain jobs makes sense, and could broaden opportunities considerably for job entrants. However, our primary educators must get the job done. They need to prepare their young students with the foundational skills needed to adapt to the demands of career.”
  12. “What do you look for in an individual? Can you coach ‘passion’? Can you learn ‘work ethic’ from having a 4 year degree? What is the future benchmark for a highly successful hire?”
  13. “Some of the smartest, most capable people I’ve known in my career didn’t have a degree. Clearly it matters in many instances, but certainly not at all. Attitude can’t be taught but in many cases aptitude can be.”
  14. “This would place the responsibility of preparing students, for the workforce, back on high schools. I’m all for that but it is going to require a reegineering of our public school systems. I teach at the undergraduate level and I feel many times that I am doing what should have been done in high school. Also, will these same CEOs make a commitment to entry level talent development programs to ensure employee retention and growth? It is time to look at higher education and job placement in a total systems approach, not as silos.”
  15. “Although the sentiment is dead-on, I would urge organizations to consider whether or not the job(s) in question is/are the starting point for a career progression that indeed does necessitate such a requirement (e.g. Bachelor’s, Master’s, etc.). If an organization hires an employee lacking in the future requirements at the time of hire, what strategies are in place to ensure that the employee(s) are qualified for the higher roles when the time comes. Corporate educational assistance budgets appear to have taken a hit — if not nonexistent — but can play an important role in succession planning. Education isn’t always the panacea it’s made out to be, but lack of education can also be of equal importance.”

With companies having their own operating systems, that are for the most part different from the degree, the path forward is that they should teach what they are doing with far greater success than the other.

College Students Encounter Obstacles of Financial Insecurity

Image via The Balance

Amid the pandemic, college students are encountering food and housing insecurity — one of the main obstacles of graduating on time and succeeding as it hinders their long-term career goals/path.

This poses as a financial crisis to many college students and recent graduates. Once again, Millennials and Gen Z’s are bearing the brunt of those who came before them.

It is not hard to believe that many students have lost financial support from their parents as a result of the pandemic, and that it would lead to food scarcity for them and not being able to pay their full amount of their rent, mortgage or utility bills. They may have lost their own supplementary jobs as well due to the long hiring freeze of many companies since March 2020, although many sectors have been slowly picking back up.

The status of their financial well-being affects between 68-72% of their mental health, leading to anxiety and depression being the highest among college graduates. Entry-level hiring has been almost cut off entirely and even STEM majors are going to have an absolutely degrading experience looking for their first job right out of graduation.

For many college graduates/recent graduates, it seems that this financial crisis leads to no hope for them. And the term “financial crisis” fits this current circumstance as there is a net inflation of tuition for certain college degrees. We are about to hit the fourth wave of the virus, and while things still are not entirely back to normal, the goals that these students set have been energy draining instead of motivating them during this situation.

Graduating from the Class of 2020 is extremely hard as this was the year that led to burnout. Additionally, there were many instances where graduates have shared the same concern about closely giving up on the idea of becoming what they studied for, while endless applying for jobs in their field that led to rejection and being ghosted by the employer.

It is going to be a major crisis for the United States if we turn our backs on an entire generation when graduates are trying to enter the workforce.

So what if you are currently lost? What if the job/career that you are looking for is currently on a hiring freeze or a decline? No vacancies at the moment? You still need to make some kind of income to keep a roof over your head.

  1. You either get creative and start your own side gig/freelance project such as starting a website/blog and get paid for it. Or if you can create your own shampoo product or using your design skills to start your own clothing line online, go for it!
  2. Or you can take a step backwards, and apply for jobs to keep you busy. Even if it isn’t the job that you are looking for, it is still a good chance for you to develop new skills that you can display on your resume.

According to Dorie Clark’s article at Harvard Business Review, he mentions something similar that will probably speak out to the crowd who is going through a tough journey right now.

Dorie states, “Unfortunately, meeting those urgent needs sometimes means that longer-range goals get shunted aside. A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, many professionals have found themselves turning down coveted promotions in order to maintain flexible hours, accepting positions in fields they actually want to leave, or saying yes to jobs they’re overqualified for or unexcited about because they simply need the money.
Those decisions — while painful — may be necessary in the short term. But a temporary departure from your professional goals doesn’t mean that all is lost. It’s essential — and possible, even with a busy day job — to stay focused on your long-term career trajectory, so you can rebound quickly and get back on a path that feels right for you.”

Below, is a survey that illustrates the population that is most vulnerable to food and housing insecurity.

#RealCollege 2021: Basic Needs Insecurity During the Ongoing Pandemic

NACE’s Career Readiness Tips: How To Prepare Yourself To Be More Career Ready

Today’s post will consist of very useful career readiness resources and tips from the National Association of Colleges and Employers because as I was reading their resource materials, I can similarly relate to the advice I have given job seekers.

Image via Center For Career and Experiential Education

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in partnership with University of North Carolina’s Career Services Center, there are 8 key competencies that every job seeker should possess as they are seeking employment:

Critical Thinking / Problem Solving and Creativity
☻ Exercises sound reasoning to analyze issues, make decisions and overcome problems
☻ Able to obtain, interpret, and use knowledge, facts, and data in this process
☻ Demonstrates originality and inventiveness

Oral and Written Communications
☻ Articulates thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively in written and oral forms to persons inside and outside of the organization
☻ Possesses public speaking skills
☻ Able to express ideas to others
☻ Writes/edits effectively and clearly (e.g. memos, letters, and complex technical reports)

Teamwork/Collaboration
☻ Builds collaborative relationships with colleagues and customers representing diverse cultures, races,ages, genders, religions, lifestyles, and viewpoints
☻ Able to work within a team structure
☻ Can negotiate and manage conflict

Digital Technology/Technical Application
☻ Leverages existing digital technologies ethically and efficiently to solve problems, complete tasks, and accomplish goals
☻ Demonstrates effective adaptability to new and emerging technologies

Leadership
☻ Leverages the strengths of others to achieve common goals
☻ Uses interpersonal skills to coach and develop others
☻ Able to assess and manage his/her emotions and those of others
☻ Use empathetic skills to guide and motivate
☻ Organizes, prioritizes, and delegates work

Professionalism and Work Ethic
☻ Demonstrates personal accountability and effective work habits (e.g. punctuality, working productively with others,and time workload management, and understand the impact of non-verbal communication on professional work image.)
☻ Demonstrates integrity and ethical behavior, acts responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind
☻ Able to learn from his/her mistakes

Career Management
☻ Articulates personal skills, strengths, knowledge, and experiences relevant to the position desired and career goals
☻ Identifies areas necessary for professional growth
☻ Able to navigate and explore job options, understands
☻ Takes the steps necessary to pursue opportunities
☻ Understands how to self-advocate for opportunities in the workplace

Global Perspective/Intercultural Fluency
☻ Values, respects, and learns from diverse cultures, races, ages, genders, sexual orientations, and religions
☻ Demonstrates openness, inclusiveness, sensitivity and the ability to interact respectfully with all people and understand individuals’ differences

The Remote Work World For The Younger Generations

Image via Pinterest

Now that working from home is a safety measure for the nation, this is a good time to scale tools, resources and people. It is an opportunity to have good, quality work done versus policing when and where. Of course, this cannot be done in all sectors/industries but wherever possible, it should be considered.

This is the time to figure out how everyone, not just future generations but also older generations, experienced and inexperienced can thrive in this rapidly changing labor market. The economy is becoming flatter and stagnant, so that will account for slower growth in many organizations.

It is immensely challenging for new hires and job seekers to make connections, regardless of age. And this especially applies to folks who are left with increased childcare responsibilities due to COVID-19 mandated school closures. With this new structure of a global online presence, everything has to be scheduled and pre-planned, including opportunities needed to socialize.

Now, how will this affect the Generation Z? Young individuals typically like to socialize and enjoy being around other individuals. However, the remote learning is causing a massive isolation — leaving them feeling stranded and lost with no plans or road map to guide them. We are losing teenagers to increased depression and suicidal rates as this is affecting their mental health.

Generally, it is hard to fathom a majority of individuals at age, to thrive in the “new normal”. We are humans that are wired for connecting/interacting face-to-face. Young individuals are grown into a highly connected and social interactive environment. The fully shifted remote work and learning can create a regimented, limiting experience for all. Feeling less connected may drive self-initiative and self reliance further and faster.

However in a way, Generation Z’s are able to thrive during this time with their digital literacy as they have grown up surrounded by technology which shows that they are capable of and more equipped for remote work, networking and learning.

For 2020 graduates — they might be able to handle this new normal of remote and digital based working, but many do not have jobs yet and are still struggling to find them. But why? Remote work can present so many opportunities and open up roles for those who do not need to be locate in that specific region to work there. However, it seems that many employers are still hiring based on a candidate’s competencies, abilities and talents rather than where they are physically located. This poses a disadvantage for recent grads with limited to no experience, since this limits their options.

A Gen Z student (’97) who has recently graduated from Hunter College, City University of New York on May 2020 says, “Upon my graduation, I recently enrolled into this program called COOP in which it is geared toward finding employment for people, and I have recognized that it is more difficult now to find a job than it might have been before. A lot of places have let their employees go, and/or started hiring freezes as well as promotional freezes. Other than that, you also have the consequence of having to do everything from home and I don’t personally live in the most ideal environment for working from home, as I imagine that this is the same for many others too.”

He argues that this remote work option is affecting him and individuals his age because they are hiring selectively based on experience/skills. “A lot of organizations will recognize that they don’t actually need as much office space as they currently have, so many places will be inclined to keep the WFH model or at least offer it as an alternative. This means you can apply to more jobs now than you might have been able to before since you won’t be limited geographically. However, this also creates more competition for every job seeker out there because we want to take this opportunity to be challenged and learn something new — but the job descriptions say otherwise. It seems like they do not want to welcome this opportunity to recent grads like us.”

The job search process has been increasingly overwhelming and stressful for young generations, however don’t lose motivation, or quit. Job seekers often give up easily. Remember why you started in the first place. Your purpose in life is to find your purpose. Stay patient and trust the journey that you’re taking. You will eventually get a job.


Your age doesn’t matter. It’s your energy and determination.

Cordia Harrington, Founder and CEO of The Bakery Cos

Going forward, employers need to implement new ways to reduce the risk of digital overwhelm and effective onboarding for new hires. They should provide a framework for remote work to help the younger generations adapt to the environment. This has to be taught instead of expecting them to find their own rhythm and process — and to do this, the employer needs to invest in those supportive tools, channels and a structured plan in place to enhance collaboration and communication.