03 Feb Degree specificity is a useless limitation
Heavy-construction firm OHL North America has a strong campus recruiting program and hires graduates from some of the top engineering programs across the country. However, in recent
years, the company has widened its net, considering graduates with non-civil-engineering degrees. OHL looks at applicants with any kind of engineering degree—mechanical, electrical,
materials—for field or project engineering positions, and it is even more flexible when recruiting for other positions, said Adam Ingber, OHL’s chief human resources officer.
Do you want to be a cost engineer? Typically, we would like a civil engineer in that position, but now we’ll look at people from all different types of backgrounds, he said. We’ll look at people
with business backgrounds, for instance, or finance and accounting. We’ll also look at someone who has an MBA who never even thought of working in construction because they can help us
improve systems and process and process analysis. The company is currently hiring a proposal manager and is willing to look at candidates with English or liberal arts degrees, Ingber said. This departure from a single-degree recruitment strategy to a more diverse one is slowly catching on across the country, and the results are promising.
Just in the last couple of years, there’s been a significant increase in the number of employers who are becoming school- and even major-agnostic, explained Steven Rothberg, founder of College Recruiter, a job search website for recent graduates. Employers are finally realizing that what they used to call requirements are actually preferences. Why? It’s simply a lot harder to hire people. Employers have a choice: Hire a less-than-perfect person in a few weeks or a month and train them, or wait six months or more for a perfect person.
Rothberg added that, according to HR data, those less-than-perfect new hires are often just as productive—if not more productive—than degree-specific hires. Speed of hire aside, there are myriad reasons that making non-degree-specific hires is a good idea. You may also save your company a significant amount of money while creating a more productive workforce. In computer programming, hiring someone from a certain school who has a certain computer science degree is going to be more expensive than hiring someone else who may turn out to be a better programmer, Hyman explained. When you, redeveloping software, candidates from a traditional computer science background think similarly. That outside programmer learned to think differently, ask different questions and take a different approach to problem-solving. In the end, they, re not only coming up with the right code, but they may also be thinking about intangibles, like marketing and sales.
Kimberly Betz, the executive director of the Center for Career Development at Princeton University agreed. We, ve known all along that the skills students learn, regardless of their major, are applicable, she said. The majority of students know how to learn and are quick and adept at learning new skills. It’s much easier to train someone to do a specific job or task than to
teach someone how to do research, think critically and communicate with others. Those new hires may also stick around longer, Rothberg said. Employees who are hired from top schools with extremely desirable degrees may be poached away quickly or simply leave after a year or two. Those with degrees not directly related to their job field or without degrees at all often put down deeper roots and feel more loyalty to a company that took a chance on them, he said. Instead of leaving after two years, they might stick around for five or 10. To find the best candidates for OHL, Ingber said he looks for resumes that highlight achievements, as well as candidates’ interpersonal skills and what they like to do outside of work.