Hiring For Trajectory And Lifelong Learning


Is a shift in hiring strategy necessary with new generations of workers entering the workforce without a degree?

The Hiring Disconnect

Companies are being “pushed to reconsider the importance of an expensive diploma.” Moving forward, “candidates will be selected based on their potential career trajectory and not necessarily what they did or didn’t achieve educationally.
– Irina Novoselsky, CEO, CareerBuilder.

Many companies are using screening software that filters candidates “based on education/pedigree, rather than learning and matching software that could tap everyone’s highest and best use.
– Thomas Friedman NYT columnist and author of Thank You For Being Late

An “increasing number of job seekers face being shut out of middle-skill, middle-class occupations by employers’ rising demand for a bachelor’s degree as a qualifying badge, even though it may be irrelevant to the job or your true capabilities.
Burning Glass International, an analytics company providing real-time data on job growth, skills in demand, and labor market trends

We have to move to more hiring on mastery, not history.
Karan Chopra, Co-Founder of Opportunity@Work, a nonprofit whose mission is to expand access to career opportunities so that all Americans can work

The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge.
Tony Wagner, founder and co-director at the Harvard Innovation Lab and currently Senior Research Fellow at the Learning Policy Institute. From Thomas Friedman’s NYT article titled Need a Job? Invent It

A Shift In Hiring – A SHift in Thinking

Competition for talent is fierce in the modern work environment where the pace of change requires an ongoing need for new and constantly updated skills. Companies don’t want to miss out on talent and that includes those that have taken a non-traditional route. The result is that some companies are moving away from hiring candidates based on degree/education. These companies have shifted to hiring based on capabilities such as problem solving, critical thinking, topic mastery, and potential career trajectory. Companies like, CareerBuilder, Google, and Apple are hiring employees who have the skills required to do the work, with or without a degree.

Breaking Down Job Candidates

According to Van Ton-Quinlivan, former vice chancellor for workforce and economic development at the California Community Colleges System, their are four basic skill sets today (New Rules, NYT, Thomas Friedman):

  1. Workers who are “ready now” – They have exactly the right skills the employer is looking for at that time.
  2. Next are workers that are “ready soon” – They have limited training and on-the-job experience, but can fit right in.
  3. Next comes “work ready” – They have two or four years of postsecondary education and can be trained (though corporate budgets are shrinking for this level of training effort).
  4. Last are “far from ready” – They either dropped out or have only a high school diploma and their prospects for work are small.
Staying Relevant

Regardless of which of the four skill set categories a worker lands in, the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the worker to continuously maintain capabilities. To maintain capabilities and stay relevant in the job market, you must be a lifelong learner. According to an article in The Economist titled Lifelong Learning, “on-the-job training is shrinking. In America and Britain, it has fallen by roughly half in the past two decades. Self-employment is spreading, leaving more people to take responsibility for their own skills.” The learning model we are accustomed to – learn from K-college, then get company training to keep skills up – “is breaking down“.

The notion that we can go to college for four years and then spend that knowledge for the next 30 is over. More is now on you. And that means self-motivation to learn and keep learning becomes the most important life skill. You have to work harder and smarter and develop new skills faster.
Thomas Friedman, NYT article Owning Your Own Future

Wagner says, “Young people who are intrinsically motivated — curious, persistent, and willing to take risks — will learn new knowledge and skills continuously. They will be able to find new opportunities or create their own — a disposition that will be increasingly important as many traditional careers disappear.

The companies that will be successful moving forward will make a shift in hiring strategy and select candidates based on capabilities, and potential career trajectory, rather than degree/education. The workers that will be successful moving forward are those that stay relevant, are motivated to learn and keep learning. As Thomas Friedman said “You have to work harder and smarter and develop new skills faster.

For more on the topic check out this Forbes article Low Wage, Not Low Skill: Why Devaluing Our Workers

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