You still need a degree Maybe you've heard you don't need a college diploma to land a gig in today's job market. Don't believe it.


Employers have been increasingly asserting that job seekers no longer need a college degree to be hired, although the reality may not quite align with that stance. According to a recent Indeed report, 52% of job listings on the platform did not specify any educational requirements, compared to 48% in 2019. Additionally, the proportion of job postings requiring a college degree or higher decreased from 20.4% to 17.8%. This shift indicates a move towards "skills-based hiring," emphasizing candidates' abilities rather than their educational background. This approach is generally welcomed by the majority of Americans who do not hold college degrees.

Efforts to dismantle the "paper ceiling" and create more opportunities for individuals without higher education have gained momentum, with several companies pledging to place a million Black Americans without college degrees in well-paying jobs. However, the assertion by companies that they are focusing less on education does not necessarily translate to a shift in hiring practices. A study by the Harvard Business School and the Burning Glass Institute revealed that although many companies announced that they were dropping degree requirements for workers, they did not effectively change their hiring practices.

Despite the intentions of higher-ups, cultural changes within companies can be challenging to implement. Hiring managers, who play a pivotal role in recruitment, may default to traditional criteria such as a college degree, even when company policies advocate for a skills-based approach. However, a move towards skills-based hiring could have a positive impact socially, economically, and practically. This shift may help employers discover qualified candidates who were previously overlooked and contribute to the diversification of workforces.

The embrace of skills-based hiring is complemented by the availability of software tools that allow employers to assess candidates' qualifications and abilities more effectively. Furthermore, solid skills-based hiring practices have been found to lead to higher retention rates for workers without degrees and offer a 25% salary increase to such candidates placed in roles that previously required degrees.

Nevertheless, there is a gap between what companies profess and what they actually practice, creating uncertainty for job seekers. Whether or not an individual holds a degree, they may choose to apply for a job, as the exact requirements remain unclear.  

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