The Hidden Pool of Talent You Should Know About

Savvy hiring managers have long known that the best source of high-level, well-trained employees is employed referrals, not sifting for graduated individuals in the desired field.  For one, new graduates often don’t have real-world experience.  It’s one thing to learn about accounting from a textbook and another to put it immediately to use in a corporate environment interacting with new coworkers.

Secondly, it can sometimes take hours of negotiations and months of training to unwind a new graduate’s unrealistic expectations inspired by research academics with limited corporate experience.  If employers wish to hire only degreed students, recruiting from B-schools with practitioner professors in their fields will help! 

All this is to say that in today’s shrinking employee market, hiring managers must dig deeper to find great talent.  And that may mean expanding the candidate field outside ivy-covered institutions and the customary search terms of BS, BA, and MBA!  Here is how.

High school resumes say a great deal about a person

Have you ever interviewed a Gen Y or Z who ticks all the boxes but has no college degree or extensive work experience?   Rather than dismiss the candidate, ask to see a high school resume, especially if hiring for an entry or mid-skill position.  Hiring managers can learn much about a person’s potential from their high school resume.  Look for evidence of attention to detail, organization, and writing.  Did the candidate participate in debate, speech, or write for the campus newsletter (evidence of soft skills)?  Did they achieve satisfactory math, science, reading, and writing scores?  A GPA above 3.5 may show a strong work ethic but be sure to allow for factors such as English as a second language which may have unfairly affected a GPA.  Asking non-graduates for other academic, extracurricular, professional, and skills-based qualifications, such as internships or work experience, will help eliminate hiring biases.

Interview for evidence of independent learning and skills development

If hiring for an entry or mid-level position, young Gen Zers have a lot going for them, with or without a college degree.  Technology skills and an eagerness to learn are a hallmark of this generation.  According to a LinkedIn report, 2022 Workplace Learning Report, Gen Zers spent more time in online coursework than other generational cohorts.  This fact points to an opportunity for learning development managers to spend more time teaching the specific skills that new employees need for further growth. 

As Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn CEO, commented, “We really need to change and think about more productive and sustainable ways to help connect talent to opportunity, and our view is that that’s going to be done through a skills-based approach.”  It is why interviews for some job descriptions should focus on acquired skills and experience rather than strictly academic learning based on a four-year degree.

Community colleges focus on skill-building

In an age where the return on investment of a $100,000 four-year degree is not always clear, it makes more sense for recruiters to add associate degrees and certificates to their search criteria.

Fortunately, community colleges and technical schools are doing a better job of career development.  Often, curriculum specialists work with local businesses to develop programs focusing on technical job skills that prepare workers for their fields.  Community college coursework and focused technical training are appropriate for entry-level IT, accounting, HR, and office administration jobs.  Add on a candidate’s job experience, and chances are you will have found yourself a motivated initiative-taker willing to learn what they need to excel!

Continual learning is key

Of course, finance, legal, and healthcare administration usually require a bachelor’s or master’s degree, so working students in those areas are the new norm.  Work and school are challenging, so 43% of people now take more than four years to complete a bachelor’s degree.  The age for advanced degree completion is increasing, too—the average age of the 2024 Wharton executive MBA class is 37, including 12 years of work experience.  HR managers who recognize that education and continuous learning are the new reality for workers today can help by supporting degree completion.    

We can help uncover hidden talent!

To discover the next Bill Gates, Anna Wintour, Larry Ellison, or Michael Dell, do not automatically dismiss job candidates with no college degree!  Instead, let the experts at Partnership Employment do the heavy lifting by searching for the perfect candidate with just the right technical and industry experience to fill your position.  Of course, our selection process doesn’t rule out non-traditional candidates that might be the perfect fit for your entry or mid-level position.  And through our extensive networking and direct recruiting, our partners can also find exceptional executive and managerial talent that meets your requirements perfectly.  So give us a call today.  We promise that every candidate we refer will be the ideal fit for your organization!