Why Companies Should Rethink Their “Resume Rules”

If you’ve ever reviewed resumes as an employer, you know the drill — work experience, skills, references, and a four-year degree. But what happens if you can’t tick that last box? The college degree is, for many employers, a non-negotiable stamp of approval.

Almost anyone in America will agree that attending college is a laudable decision, a decision that should be available to anyone who is willing to put in the work and effort. But for many, a four-year degree is not attainable, or at least not attainable at age 18 when most young people begin their advanced education.

While attending college is a worthwhile goal in many respects, it shouldn’t be the sole pathway for getting a well-paying job, especially if that job is in information technology.

Because of lack of credentials, millions of talented people are stuck in low-wage job cycles that leave them no opportunity for livable salaries, professional advancement, and the chance of a better life.

At the same time, American businesses face a threat to their growth and success. They lack the skilled employees required to support their fast-growing technology needs. Add up the individual tech needs at companies across the country and we find ourselves with a massive tech-talent gap that threatens American competitiveness on a global scale.

Employers can’t afford to keep turning away qualified candidates just because they lack a four-year degree, especially in the tech industry, where high-tech, low-cost education resources abound. Organizations like edX, Udacity, Coursera, and even Harvard University have created world-class education materials dedicated to giving motivated people the chance to develop their skill base. There are plenty of talented, skilled people who have the ability to be top-notch employees — but instead of being your team’s new rockstar, they’re stuck on the outside looking in.

It’s time to shift the HR world’s focus from academic pedigree to actual skills and ability. At LaunchCode, we meet hundreds of aspiring coders with the perseverance, passion, and courage to pursue their dream jobs. Some hold down full-time jobs while pouring their hearts into learning code on the weekends and weeknights. Some risk everything and quit their jobs to commit themselves to learning new tech skills. Others go through traditional educational programs, but lack the work experience to be considered competitive by HR staff.

Today, what all of these candidates have in common is a tech job. Why? Because an employer like MasterCard or Boeing or ExpressScripts decided to break a few of their resume rules and take a chance on a non-traditional candidate. Ask them if it was worth it and you’ll hear a resounding “yes.”

It’s time for employers to stop competing over the same tiny pool of tech talent and instead rethink how they hire. With more opportunity, we can welcome a whole new generation of talented technologists.

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