The Competition For Employees Intensifies

Has "No experience necessary" become a standard approach to hiring?

September 20, 2018

When millions of Americans were out of work after the last recession – and HR had more resumes than they could handle – a lot of companies added limiting requirements to job postings to ensure they hired the best applicants.

Today, with unemployment at record or near-record lows, depending on the state, employers are actually lifting the requirements they once insisted on attaching to every job, including college degrees and specific skill sets.

In other words, come on in: no experience necessary.

Many industries are now providing training instead of requiring prior experience. They are even skipping drug tests and criminal background checks. HR departments, particularly in areas of the country where unemployment is the lowest, are recognizing that candidates have a lot of options. If one employer makes it mandatory to have a particular degree, job experience, or a set of skills, job candidates can simply go find another option that has lifted those requirements.

Call centers and warehouse operations for retailers such as Walmart and Amazon have cut most job credential requirements. In the first half of 2018 the share of job postings that require a college degree fell to 30 percent from 32 percent in 2017, according to a labor-market research firm survey that analyzed ads on websites such as Indeed and Craigslist. In fact, minimum qualifications have been getting lower and lower every year since 2012 when the figure was at 34 percent.

Requirements for substantial work-history have also gone down. According to the same survey,  only 23 percent of entry-level jobs now ask applicants for three or more years of experience, compared with 29 percent back in 2012. That puts more applicants in line for an additional 1.2 million jobs.

Through the end of last year, an additional 1 million new jobs were opened to candidates with no previous experience. That made jobs such as e-commerce analysts, purchasing assistants, and even preschool teachers open to those without a degree or prior experience.

It all marks a sharp reversal from the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, when employers could be pickier. Economists say job requirements were harder to track then, because many companies didn’t post positions publicly and many résumés weren’t delivered electronically.

A lot of employers are loosening college requirements even as the number of workers with a bachelor’s degree is rising. Bank of America Corp. recently reported 7,500 job openings world-wide with fewer than 10 percent requiring any kind of degree. They further stated that a number of jobs could be filled by nongraduates, including most bank tellers and employees handling customer-service and fraud-protection calls. In June of 2018, the bank revealed plans to hire 10,000 more retail workers from low-income neighborhoods over the next five years – with or without degrees.

Not every company is relaxing or abandoning requirements. Positions that require a high level of technical expertise still need advanced knowledge, which generally means a degree. The tech industry tends to dismiss degrees such as a Bachelor of Arts as irrelevant, especially in fields such as data analytics, where demand for talent has risen faster than universities can produce potential employees.

At Intel, degrees are optional for many positions where experience is considered more important. They also have created a “tech grad” job category the company describes as fitting candidates with relevant classroom or work experience from technical programs.

All in all, the world of hiring has at once become simplified and more complicated. It’s possible that many of your positions can be filled by personnel with no degrees or even work-related experience, so your options have increased. But now actually vetting candidates and having to sort through substantially more applications can make your job that much more difficult.

What’s the best course of action for your company? Contact your Marsh & McLennan Agency representative to talk about what makes sense for you in this new hiring environment.