Degree Inflation and Professional Recruitment
How far does a college degree go in driving your career success?
“It's not a mathematical equation to success,” says Drew Evans, Senior Director of Computer Futures.
40 years ago, a college education meant that an applicant for a mid-level position was leagues ahead of their competition for a limited number of open positions with a company. As time went on and the economy changed, so did the expectations of hiring managers. In 2022, more often than not companies are requiring a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs and internships, indicating that a master’s is preferred. The term ‘degree inflation’ has been around for a while but it has recently become a common phrase in the discussions of the great resignation, inter-generational judgments, and a broken system of economic conditioning that targets vulnerable young people.
“The expectation is that you have to have a degree and it almost doesn't matter what it is” says Nick Ferraro, Director at Computer Futures.
With such a large number of candidates for entry-level positions possess a college degree and a finite number of jobs with good pay and benefits, businesses have changed the minimum job specifications for positions. Requiring a 4-year degree whether or not it is needed to perform the work is a symptom of this economic condition.
“It's a shame that people without a college degree usually have to approach their job search with the attitude of needing someone to take a chance on them, but it's true” says Anthony Mazzella, Senior Manager at Computer Futures.
There are many successful career paths open to people without degrees, but the choices are slimmer in today’s job market. One area that can be particularly attractive to an ambitious, hardworking, and affable person is the profession of recruitment and sales.
“Recruiting offers very good career growth, you can progress very quickly in the industry. You can be a director in 5 years with no prior experience, says Jamie Burgess, Director of Computer Futures. We hire for emotional and social intelligence. That's how you define smart in this job.”
The interview process for most staffing firms centers not around the contents of a resume, but the tone of the conversation with a candidate.
“We interview for soft skills like handling adversity, getting along with others, working through challenges, all the intangibles that you're born and raised with” says Chris Lane, Senior Director of Computer Futures.
The most valuable things to a hiring manager in the staffing industry are a positive attitude, resilience, coachability, discipline, intellectual curiosity, and a great work ethic. None of these factors are mutually inclusive of a person with or without continuing education.
“That sales instinct, that hunger, is something that comes from within that has more to do with who you are as a person than how you were trained in your lifetime” says Lauren Turbiak, Senior Sales Team Manager of Computer Futures.
Even more telling about an applicant for a recruiting position is the condition under which they attended, or did not attend college. There are people who worked to put themselves through school and had to apply themselves every day to see the commitment through. Then there are people who had their educations provided for and had a vastly different experience. One of these is more likely to be successful in a recruiting career because they are used to a hard grind, while the other must become accustomed to it and may not enjoy the shift in requirements.
“Being able to do your calls when you're feeling like it might not go well, you still have to do it, put in your numbers, and put in your effort” says Benjamin Williams, Recruiter at Computer Futures.
Recruitment as well as Sales in general are career paths that take months or years of hard work and long hours before they begin to pay off. The attrition rate can be high in this industry and so hiring managers are trained very carefully to select the people that they believe have the potential to do well.
“It's about the conversations they've had, how they carry themselves, what they want in life, how much you get along with them. All those unsung things” says Andrew Schaffner, Senior Executive Recruiter at Computer Futures.
There is no college course for a career in recruitment. Anyone from any background can enter the field with the right combination of characteristics and experience, be taught and coached, and be very successful under the right conditions. Technological tools like ATS systems do help but are not to be relied on 100% for sourcing the target hires.
“When you standardize a process, standardize anything, you lose a lot of the creativity and beauty in that” says Vincent Burke, Sales Team Manager at Computer Futures.
Finding new recruiters to join our team is more art than science. A college degree is a bonus, but experiences in life and prior work experience go a long way in showing potential in this profession. The mission of a staffing firm with standards is to set up any new hire for an exceptional career.
“There is equal opportunity for people without a degree to be promoted in our organization and be successful. Everyone is on the same playing field and has to reach the same goals to get to the top,” says Sean Law, Vice President of Talent Acquisition at Computer Futures.
So, who wakes up one day and decides that a career in recruitment is right for them? Are they with the company for a job, or for a career? Like many Sales jobs, recruitment as a profession is something that many people did not know they wanted to do until the career path came upon them and they discovered a passion for the job.
Read more about starting on a staffing career path - Mel Gidlow: My Career as a Recruitment Consultant
“It's great when people say in interviews that they want to help people find jobs, but every person on my team wants to make money, that's their motivation,” says Adam Kris, Sales Team Manager at Computer Futures.