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Why Businesses Need to Focus More on Recruiting Younger Professionals than University Degrees

recruiting younger professionals

When it comes to recruitment, conventional workplace wisdom tells an employer to value the basics like a CV, or a degree, often at the expense of the candidate’s potential. Hiring best practices, especially in 2021, are full of checklists. And one attribute most commonly in demand is a degree.

It’s based on a view that a university degree is one of the few evidence a candidate can provide to demonstrate skill, knowledge and understanding about a field of expertise – like digital marketing. Not only can prioritising degrees limit your hunt for the best candidates, but sometimes conforming too much to a predictable hiring process turns a blind eye to the skills and people your business really needs.

The talent market is a promising landscape when businesses know how to attract, acquire, and nurture the best candidates available. But when a business falls back on traditional hiring practices, like making degrees compulsory, they may start to limit the talent in their sights.

Whether a business hires directly, or outsources their recruitment, degrees and other conventions are typically part of the screening process. This means a business might miss the opportunity of meeting talented young professionals, especially those lacking a degree, simply because the screening process feels too rigid.

Employers can unintentionally create barriers that candidates will struggle to overcome, which has led key research institutes like the Harvard Business Review to notice not only how degrees have become more commonplace in hiring, but how there’s a weak correlation between level of education and job performance. Degrees are still relevant, but at MRS Digital – an award-winning SEO agency in Hampshire – we understand how young professionals who rise above these conventions can be just as beneficial for future business growth.


Rigid Hiring Turns Away Talent

The problem with most traditional screening processes, whether your business controls it or not, is how it closes the gap of talent that you see. Of course, screening CVs for degrees is often mandatory because it can filter talent based on what you’re looking for so long as they have the right educational level. But unless this is proactively approached by a business, then oftentimes you may be missing the best talent because you didn’t know it existed.

We have learnt that you can control this process, whether that’s by communicating your goals and values to a recruiter, or by challenging the criteria you use to benchmark talent before it reaches the door.


How We Hire Differently at MRS Digital

First impressions 

From the first moment you interact with a candidate – typically when you lay eyes on their CV – employers should be thinking about cultural fit, technical competence, and the quality of the person behind the words.

Everything is role specific in recruitment, which means skills, experiences, and interests should feel relevant to the available role. But too often CVs use the same language and tick the usual boxes, such as a candidate who describes themself as an “ambitious” or “passionate” professional

A first impression can make all the difference, which is why the desirable CVs shouldn’t read like all others. Instead, a CV should offer more than words, and rather demonstrate energy and personality. A CV should read like a refreshing balance of honesty and confidence, helping the candidate’s experience and training jump off the page.


Cultural fit matters

The potential cultural impact of a candidate matters for any business. Many businesses will detail their company ethos, often because these principles have helped them remain competitive and successful in their industry. For example, we breathe core values of embracing and driving change, delivering strong client-focussed results, doing the best (and striving to do it better than others), and a fierce pursuit of growth and learning.

Cultural fit matters because you’re hiring people, not just for roles, experience, or degrees. An organisation relies on its people, especially when teams are closer-knit likes ours, and any candidate should demonstrate how they comfortably align with your moral compass and values.

When a business tests to see if a candidate fits culturally, they understand how careers go beyond 9-5, and become more a part of someone’s life. A business should see recruitment as the opportunity to invest in people, not just a vacant role.

From our experience, business growth is motivated by having the right people working behind the scenes. This means nurturing our team as more than just a group of professionals, but understanding how their enthusiasm and perseverance can drive success in different parts of the business. Putting our culture first, and testing how different people can contribute to it, has allowed us to benchmark the kinds of candidates we consider for roles.


Strong performers

Businesses often prioritise relevant skills in the CV screening process and reiterate this in the interviewing stage. Whereas we recognise people who have the right intelligence and other skills that contribute to a role. For example, we do SEO a certain way, so, in some cases, it is favourable to hire someone who demonstrates dynamism and aptitude for the role, and train them up, rather than hire someone who has been plugging away at the same processes year after year. Even though we hire for skills, we change the emphasis to focus on other strengths that might be just as valuable in succeeding within a role. This might be the right way of thinking, strong writing, or data analysis.


The Business Impact of Hiring This Way

Most recruiters are at the mercy of the talent market, limiting who they can hire to the candidates available only when they go looking for them. From changing how we hire, we have noticed a positive business impact, including a wider talent pool and even more encounters with aspiring talented professionals. Without the limits of a rigid screening process, we can see more people and a greater diversity of skills and experiences on offer, often capturing people who have taken a less conventional route to getting where they are.

Hiring differently allows a business to grow by investing in the right people and skills for their organisation, often when the market feels overcrowded. When the talent market struggles to answer recruitment drives effectively, approaching the market with an ‘always on’ approach helps to find the right people without waiting for the right role to catch their eye.

When a business hires differently – be it screening young professionals without degrees or testing for cultural fit – you eliminate the traditional barriers and widen the scope for talent who can apply and become part of your business. When the barriers are gone that limit most other employers from seeing the full spectrum of talent available, the only thing holding a candidate back is themself.


Why Other Business’ Should Challenge How They Hire

Most jobs have the baggage of expectations, whilst other recruiters just try for the best out of what’s available. Of course, hiring is subjective to a business and its existing needs and goals. But recruitment can too often fall into the risk of becoming rigid and formal, which does not always capture the best tone.

Instead, being personable, open, and interested can help you see talent for it really is. When you shake off conventional thinking, you can finally hire what your business wants and needs.



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