When Should You Disregard A Candidate's Degree?

Fatoumata Nabie Fofana
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Academic requirements are a standard part of any job description. But where does that leave a candidate armed with practical experience, wisdom, and untapped talent—eager to get started on the job—but lacks a college degree? Though requiring a minimum of a bachelor’s degree makes sense, it is also essential for employers to rethink their demand for a degree when hiring for certain roles.

Companies restricting their hiring strategies to standard qualifications risk undermining their competitive edge. For instance, a person can become a life or health insurance sales agent through intensive, specialized training. A degree is not a standard requirement. Recruiters in this field pay specific attention to candidates with relevant licenses, backed by their knowledge of evolving industry trends. All a candidate needs for an insurance agent role is previous sales, customer service, marketing experience, and other relevant soft skills, such as active listening. The point here is that it makes sense to look beyond a candidate’s degree and focus more on their continuously evolving abilities. Plus, in a recent survey by Nexxt, 96% of employers said that work experience is more important to them than education level.

A recruiter may also consider looking beyond a candidate’s degree when interacting with an excellent prospect. This is in no way a suggestion that academic requirements should be ignored completely. However, it is ok to be nonconventional yet, logical when recruiting. A hiring manager can relax their hiring requirements and accept a candidate with a previous military background. If a job description requires specific skills a candidate must learn in college, then it makes sense to include possessing a degree in the job description.

However, if a recruiter values the strengths, skills, or experiences a candidate could gain through previous involvement with a similar role, why not disregard the degree requirement to attract other exceptional job seekers? Besides, providing on-the-job training solidifies an employee’s skills for enhanced productivity.

Regardless of their path to success, it is imperative to understand that an experienced candidate (without a college degree) is always learning while working.


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