How crucial is higher education in finding the right talent for your business?
Finding new talent is stressful. You want to find someone who not only works hard and has the right skill set, but whose values align with your company's principles and culture.
With low unemployment, it's a job seeker's market. If you're struggling to find a good fit, you may want to consider widening your pool of applicants to include candidates without a college degree.
Asmaa Lasheen, a Business.com community member, asked, "Would you hire someone that didn't graduate from college?" This is an important question for business owners who are trying to build their teams. We asked business owners and career experts to find an answer. Here's what they said.
1. Find someone with the right skills, experience and attitude.
When you're filling a position, it's important to find someone with the right skills and attitude – regardless of if they have a college degree.
"What's most important when hiring is if the job seeker is the right fit for the employer and if they possess the right skills for that job," said Monster career expert Vicki Salemi.
While a college degree is helpful and important, hands-on experience is typically more valuable, Salemi said. "If a candidate earned a degree in one area but doesn't have any work or internship experience, and another candidate didn't earn a degree but has worked in the type of role they are interviewing for, a company may be more inclined to go with the latter."
Dana Case, director of operations at MyCorporation, agrees and believes if an applicant has the skills, experience and knowledge, it doesn't matter if they have a degree. "Yes, a college degree proves that a candidate is committed and has a well-rounded education, but that should not trump or invalidate their professional experience if they didn't receive a diploma from an educational institution."
2. Look for soft skills and call references.
When you're interviewing candidates, it's important to get a full picture, including their soft skills and how they performed in previous jobs.
"For candidates who don't have a college degree and need to prove themselves to employers, it's important to highlight their teamwork, communication skills, problem-solving, interpersonal skills, work ethic and flexibility/adaptability," said Salemi.
Josh Rubin, CEO of Post Modern Marketing, said about only half of his employees have degrees related to their jobs. When he's hiring employees, the most important factor to him is the quality of their character.
"If you're looking to hire someone who did not attend college, talk to their previous employers and get a sense of what they're like to work with," Rubin said.
He also recommends not limiting hires based on what they studied in college. "Find out a candidate's long-term goals and what they want to do in the future, and hire based on that."
3. Pay employees the same regardless of degrees.
If you decide to hire an employee without a degree, you should pay them the same as candidates who did go to college.
"They are not less valuable, nor worth less than someone who did (graduate from college)," Salemi said. "When a candidate is the right fit for a company and its needs, they should be paid equally, not based on degree or which school they did or did not attend."
Tom Wallace, owner of Home Check Inspection, agrees. "When it comes to pay, I pay my employees based on experience, not education. I don't believe in paying people less just because they didn't go to college."