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  • Rachel Doyle

The future of work is about skills, not degrees - so how can you identify the best talent?

Having a degree is no longer a key differentiator for talent and potential, outside of the obvious roles such as medicine and law, it is difficult to differentiate one degree from another. An overall degree score does not tell you how hard a candidate worked to get that grade. For example, a candidate may have completed industry projects as part of their degree and had a significant input into that project, over another candidate who was part of a team who worked on a project, but in reality delivered very little benefit at all. Then there is the difference in teaching styles, quality and learning. Degrees do nothing to tell you about a candidate’s potential and real world transferable skills. Communication skills are highly valuable to a business. A candidate who is good at building relationships will be able to generate good working relationships between teams and departments and could be a strong influencer.

Masters are the new entry level qualification

Undergraduates have already started planning for their next steps and a number are opting to stay in education. Competition is rife, grade inflation of late at A Level stage and a large number of students who stayed in education during the initial covid months have led to more students opting to undertake further study so that they can have the competitive edge over other graduates and hopefully command a higher starting salary.

Why are degrees no longer an indication of ability

Unless graduates are working closely with industry on projects, then they may leave university with limited experience and skills relevant to the work place. Communication skills and the ability to work effectively in a team, negotiation and influencing skills are all valuable

With so many degrees, subjects and different teaching styles on offer, as well as various different levels of projects and study required between the various UK institutions, it is more difficult to compare a 2i degree from a Russell Group university / Red Brick university or the QS World Rankings. Degrees have become a complicated business and without being able to measure the skills and potential of your candidates it is hard to identify true talent.

What are the other ways to identify potential in a candidate?

Graduate recruitment often involves taking part in skills assessment centres, which assess potential through a series of tests and exercises. However, candidates are selected onto assessment centres based on their predicted grades, the university that they attend as well as some targeted application questions. Prescreening doesn’t take into account a candidate’s potential as there is a limited way of measuring it. Move past the graduate intake and many jobs don’t do much to identify a candidate’s potential or skillset, it is often a discussion around previous job history and what they may have done within that role, depending on industry. Sometimes there is a requirement to take ability tests but not always. Given the speed at which recruitment is moving at the moment, candidates are often snapped up by the second stage interview and there isn’t time for testing to be undertaken plus in businesses candidates were being recruited even if they didn’t perform well on these tests, identifying that the tests weren’t fit for purpose.

Tech businesses ditched the requirement for degrees a few years ago

The skills shortage necessitated that employers stopped focussing on whether candidates had a degree and instead looked for those who were self taught. With the speed at which recruitment has shifted in the last 12 months, is the degree worth using as a barrier to entry, or should hiring teams be looking further into how they can identify potential for their business? Perhaps skills gaps can be filled more effectively by stripping away social mobility bias and identifying skills in your business and finding ways that you can screen and test potential applications for these. With the exception of some finance roles, apprenticeships are still not giving candidates a strong enough segway into industry. So what are the options for candidates looking to make their first step onto the career ladder rather than just the requirement to have a degree? For your business, this isn’t a great identifier of talent. In fact it places more importance on cultural fit and identifying candidates who are the best cultural fit to a business and its teams. Hiring the wrong candidate can not only be costly, it can be damaging if they are a contentious team member and might cause other team members to leave the business. Not to mention the impact to business performance and time it takes to hire and replace, if that is possible.

Work with a recruiter who has industry experience.

If you partner with a specialist recruiter who has experience of working within the industry or roles you are recruiting for, they will already have a good idea of the skillset required along with best personality fit for the role. Additionally, they will also be ideally placed to identify your current team’s culture as well as the business and be able to identify the best match to your roles.

Looking for help with your recruitment? Speak to Auxeris. Our network of specialist recruiters can help you find the best fit candidates to your roles. They will make your recruitment process easier by carrying out the initial screening to identify those candidates that are the right match in personality and potential. Get in touch today and see how we can help your business.

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