Requirements for job applicants keep rising

A survey of thousands of hiring managers shows that many have raised their educational standards for applicants, a practice some call "upcredentialing."

The survey of 2,391 American hiring and human resource managers was conducted by Harris Insights & Analytics in late 2016 on behalf of CareerBuilder. Researchers asked participating employers about their educational requirements, whether those requirements have changed in recent years, and if so, why.

Overall, 41% of employers now require a bachelor's degree for positions for which applicants formerly needed only a high school diploma. By comparison, only 37% of employers reported upcredentialing in 2016. Similarly, 33% of employers are now requiring a master's degree for positions that formerly required only a four-year degree—an increase from 27% in 2016.

Many students are almost—but not quite—prepared for jobs. And that's a problem.

Why is upcredentialing getting more popular?

The top two reasons for upcredentialing cited by the hiring and human resource managers were:

  1. The skillsets required for the roles had become more advanced over time (61%); and
  2. It's become easier to hire more educated applicants during the relatively weak labor market of the past few years (56%).

Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, attributes the trend to the array of technical skills today's employees need to be successful. "Compared to 10 years ago, more jobs now have specific technical requirements, and therefore, need a higher level of education," she says.

Companies also reported seeing several benefits after upcredentialing, such as better work, more productivity, and improved communication. Haefner points out that these benefits create an incentive for upcredentialing to spread (CareerBuilder release, accessed 5/31; Williams, GoodCall, 5/26).

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