Why is the degree losing its value to recruiters in 2018?


Were you the kid in the back of the class with a dream – but worried that you were never going to pass that exam or make it in the real world? If so, 2018 could be the year for you.

Over the last 20 years, university degrees have been vital in the recruitment process, both in the UK and all over the world. Those without a degree were rarely able to get their foot through the door, but this could be about to change. With recruiters now taking into account everything from emotional intelligence to personality traits and how well potential employees work in a team, the reliance on higher education and exam results to spot talent is starting to wane.


Differing values and the younger generations

It is clear that Millennials and Generation Y have a completely different approach when it comes to finding a potential job in comparison to previous generations.

Recruiters should keep the following in mind when hiring graduates:

  • The up and coming generation look for what a job can offer them in terms of personal progression, overall happiness, diversity and benefits, whereas previously the majority of us based our job search on salary rather than job satisfaction.
  • It is important for recruiters to pinpoint the values that potential employees are looking for in a company and vice versa.
  • Gone are the days of hiring only those who achieved the best results during education. Companies now look for well-rounded individuals who are bright, sociable and have a certain level of emotional intelligence. It is more important than ever to be able to relate to colleagues, especially when it comes to teamwork.


The significance of Psychometric Testing 

The use of psychometric testing, such as the scientific Hogan Assessment, follows the notion that recruitment is about far more than qualifications, it’s about hiring the right people to fit into your firm.

The advice given to leaders is to hire slow and fire fast, meaning that the hiring process should be exactly that, a process in which potential employees are vetted over a longer period of time where their personalities and abilities are given time to truly shine through.

Emotional intelligence is hugely important to both personal and professional success and is seen as one of the keys to the future of leadership in the business world. Detailed assessments prior to hiring can ensure that new employees truly fit the bill of what recruiters are looking for.

Soft skills can be a stronger determiner of future success and potential than just being able to get the right answer. It is said that the stars of tomorrow are more likely to have high emotional intelligence rather than necessarily a high IQ.


A shift in educational values

Britain currently leads the way in creative industries, so it is vital that we nurture innovation and creativity in our school children as well as valuing the technical skills of scientists and mathematicians.

The reality is that nurturing potential entrepreneurs, for instance, takes more than traditional education and exams.

It is not about ignoring those who are successful at school but about opening our minds to include other indicators:

  • Creativity and emotional intelligence can be a hidden skill and it is not necessarily the bookish children who will succeed. Often children who do not perform so well academically develop skills as a coping strategy to help them to work in a team.
  • Sometimes by hiring those who have struggled during education, you can find workers who are far more resilient and ready to take on new challenges.


Apprenticeships will come to the forefront

With the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in April 2017, it is clear that the UK as a whole is placing more value on apprentice schemes and this trend is likely to accelerate.

For years we have been limiting a whole range of jobs to only degree holders, and by doing so alienated a whole host of people who may not have had the same resources or opportunities as others but who may have thrived in the role, what will we achieve by opening ourselves to apprenticeships?

  • We will begin to see a whole new range of teenage workers who have gone straight into a paying job from school and who have been trained in a new set of skills in the real world.
  • Retention rates could rise. Recent research has shown higher retention rates amongst apprentices compared to graduates.

There will, of course, always be a value connected to a degree or post-graduate qualification and there are careers where it remains vital; but as recruiters open their minds to other indicators of talent 2018 could prove to be a year of change.


Once you get the right talent in your organisation, the focus moves to retaining it. Richard Mayson discusses this in a previous blog.