College degree requirements for IT jobs are overhyped. Many organizations emphasize the importance of four-year degrees for various tech jobs. Ultimately, this works against them. Over-spec’ing IT job requirements shrinks the tech talent pool and makes hiring harder. Thankfully, this is changing.
Maryland, Pennsylvania and Utah recently eliminated four-year college degree requirements for government jobs and were recognized by CompTIA for it. An increasing number of private employers are following suit. This is wonderful news for companies that hire IT pros, as well as individuals without college degrees who have been shut out of the tech job market.
Instead of seeking IT job candidates with college degrees, a growing number of employers and government agencies are implementing skills-based hiring. By writing skills-based IT job descriptions, hiring managers and other organizational leaders can fill vacant positions faster, with better candidates.
Why Implement Skills-Based Hiring?
Skills-based hiring is trending as the demand for college degrees for tech job candidates is becoming more relaxed. Organizations that use a skills-based hiring approach reap benefits that go beyond having access to a robust IT talent pool.
According to How Skills-Based Hiring Leads to Better Recruiting Decisions, skills-based hiring allows organizations to match the best possible employee to the most suitable position and boost employee retention and loyalty.
The author states that companies need to view hiring in a new way. “Any candidate who is a good fit for a company, has a strong work ethic and is willing to learn, is worth hiring – regardless of their educational background. Companies like yours can level the playing field by evaluating potential new hires on their skill sets rather than their formal education.”
Organizations can align themselves with a skills-based hiring approach and enjoy the benefits of it by writing skills-based job descriptions.
Best Practices for Penning Skills-Based IT Job Descriptions
Switching to a skills-based hiring approach doesn’t have to be complicated. It starts with writing job descriptions that are focused on skills, not college credentials. Here are a few ways to do this:
1. Make college degrees preferred, not required. In IT, college degrees can be over-valued. Nevertheless, it is okay to want to hire job candidates who possess college degrees. After all, degrees show that individuals can complete long-term goals and have significant knowledge in a specific area of interest. But if you want to switch to skills-based hiring, stress in your job descriptions that four-year degrees are preferred, not required.
2. List alternative ways candidates could have gained necessary skills. Some employers may believe that relaxing their degree requirements for tech jobs will lead to attracting job candidates who are unqualified and unskilled. This isn’t the case. There are other ways candidates can attain skills needed for a job without getting a degree. Skills-based job descriptions show candidates that the hiring organization embraces alternative credentials, such as IT certifications, IT certificates or relevant work experience.
3. Spell out each job’s required skills. The most important step in writing a skills-based job description is listing the specific skills the job calls for, without requiring that the candidate gleaned those skills via four-year degree.
“Include the skills that would be nice to have, such as additional education, areas of expertise or leadership skills,” wrote Lee Ann Prescott in How to Write a Skills-Based Job Description. “This section allows you to attract your ideal candidate while not limiting your reach by making the job description so specific that it turns away candidates who meet the required qualifications.”
Your Organization Can Benefit From Skills-Based Hiring
As you consistently write job descriptions that focus on skills, not degrees, you’ll find that hiring becomes easier, quicker and more effective.
Net support for eliminating or relaxing four-year degree requirements in hiring shot up from 76% to 85% this year. At the same time, organizations are displaying a growing value for IT certifications, which confer practical job skills and not just theoretical knowledge, in hiring. Clearly, skills-based hiring is in. Any organization can benefit from skills-based hiring, including yours.
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