Recruit for skills, not for credentials or pedigree

Stop Focusing on Degrees – Recruit for Skills Instead

The tech industry’s talent shortage is no secret, but let’s go over the numbers again just for the heck of it.

According to data collected by Code.org, there are over 500,000 unfilled technology-related jobs right now. But only about 49,000 people graduated into the workforce from computer science programs in 2017. The numbers are clear: There just aren’t enough computer science students graduating each year to fill all the available roles.

And it doesn’t look like things will change anytime soon. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that in 2020, there will be 1.4 million open technology jobs, but only 400,000 people will graduate from computer science programs.

So how can companies find enough qualified people to fill their open engineering roles if there aren’t enough students graduating from computer science programs to go around?

By looking at candidates who don’t have a traditional computer science background.

It can be nerve-wracking for recruiters to reach out to candidates who don’t have a computer science degree from a 4 year program. But it’s absolutely worth it! The past 10 years have seen a revolution in the way that people learn technical skills. Whether they’re learning computer science fundamentals or mastering in-depth topics, there are a plethora of new ways for people to get the skills they need. And this new educational model is democratizing computer science.

The new educational landscape

In the last decade, online educational resources have grown exponentially, both in quantity and quality. Platforms like Udacity, Coursera, and edX offer free online courses from big-name schools like MIT. These services also offer students the option to get a professional certification when they finish one of these online courses. Khan Academy, FreeCodeCamp, and Treehouse abandon the online classroom format in favor of more interactive learning experiences. And YouTube has a massive amount of free content. (Including educational videos from CodeFights!) For the self-motivated learner, ways to learn online for free or for fairly nominal fees abound. And online and onsite coding bootcamps offer a more hands-on approach, for a fraction of the cost of a four-year computer science degree.

No matter what platform they choose, these learners have a wealth of information at their fingertips. But what they don’t have are the traditional learning credentials. These degrees or school names are what recruiters often look for when they’re sourcing prospects or looking at applicant resumes.

The case for non-traditional candidates

Programmers with non-traditional backgrounds don’t have the educational qualifications that recruiters usually look for. Their resumes and their LinkedIn profiles will reflect this, often placing much more emphasis on personal or open-source projects than on educational or work experiences. But these candidates can be just as skilled as ones who have the “right” markers! This means they can be the solution to the tech talent shortage facing the industry today.

If companies only consider candidates with traditional pedigree markers to fill their open roles, then their pool of available prospects will be fairly small. And the competition for these pedigreed candidates is fierce. Of course, none of this is to say that people who do have these credentials aren’t great candidates! But when companies limit themselves to just these people, they miss out on amazing “hidden gem” candidates.

Recruiters need to be able to reframe how they think about finding prospects and what to look for when when they’re considering candidates. The best way to do this? Focus on skills, not on credentials.

People can (and do) list any old skill on their resumes and LinkedIn profiles, so you can’t rely on them to tell you the full story. It’s crucial to be able to verify these skills before moving forward with a prospect. Phone screens, take-home projects, or interview tasks can all help verify skills. But the best, and most efficient, way of verifying skills is at the very top of the funnel, even before a phone screening. A coding test that is emailed to prospects and delivers automatic results back to the company, like those sent from CodeFights Recruiter Test, can streamline the recruiting process because recruiters are able to verify skills right away.

Education has changed, and recruiting has to change as well. It’s time to stop prioritizing educational credentials. Start measuring people by what they can do in a data-driven, skills-based way. You’ll uncover a treasure trove of amazing candidates!

CodeFights Recruiter is a skills-based recruiting tool for modern hiring teams that helps companies source, test, and measure technical talent. Founded in 2014 and based in San Francisco, the CodeFights mission is to make sure that you’re only talking to the best candidates at every part of the recruiting funnel.

If you’re ready to discover how candidates with non-traditional educational backgrounds can contribute to your company, CodeFights Recruiter can help. Sign up for a free demo and find out how!

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