Would You Hire for Skill or Degree?
This is a very sensitive question especially, for a tech recruiter. Should a company use only a degree as a benchmark when recruiting software engineers? What if the candidate has the necessary skills but not the required degree? How can there be a balance between the two? These questions are often debated among techies and recruiters.
On one side of the coin are those who believe an engineering degree is essential. Algorithms, Data Structures and other topics which form the foundations of computer science are being taught in the university. This foundational knowledge makes a solid engineer. On the flip side are people who believe just the opposite. They have met a lot of self-taught engineers with no tech related degree. This experience for them is frequent which has led them to question the content being taught in the universities.
But then, shouldn’t there be a justification for those who have spent so much money and time to acquire a tech-related college degree? With the rapid innovation in technology, the playing field has been levelled. Technology itself has made learning tech skills demystified and readily available, thanks to various online platforms like Youtube, Codecademy, Cousera, Udacity, etc. Anyone can learn outside the four walls of the university and still be competitive in the job market.
According to an article by Glassdoor, companies like Google, Apple and IBM are open to hiring software engineers without a degree. Google since realized that book-smart does not necessarily equal strong work ethic, grit, and talent. Maggie Stilwell (Managing Partner for Talent at EY) stated, “Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door.”
It is often said that a degree will open the door, but it is skills that will keep you in. In software engineering, work portfolio is the new degree: show us what you can do, does it meet our requirements? Can you fit into our culture? As long as there is a way to verify the technical fit of a software engineer, self-taught engineers should be considered else recruiters might just be depriving themselves of exceptional talent which is increasingly becoming difficult to find.