Today when the number of college-educated people in the workforce is at its highest, many employers prefer (or downright demand) candidates to have a college degree even for the middle-skill jobs. No wonder they call bachelor degree the new high-school diploma. However, by setting the bar too high you can actually bar from entering the much-needed and affordable talent. How to prevent it?

Avoid degree inflation

In today’s job market it is smart to recruit for competency and attitude rather than their degree because GPA and diplomas say less and less about the candidates’ actual skills. Students use hired help to improve their grades and even start college off by going online to order admission essay.

Instead of hiring only candidates from prestigious colleges with high GPAs, it’s better to test your applicant for transferable skills like leadership, communication, resilience and problem-solving. These can often better predict the future success of the candidate.

Prioritize soft skills

Millennial and Gen-Z employees are good at self-learning. They can teach themselves new hard skills, such as how to use new tools, and cope just fine with finding the information they lack to complete a task, so soft skills must be your focus more than ever.

Moreover, we rarely meet the perfect candidate that answers all the requirements. Usually, we must prioritize some characteristics over others. It is essential to find the right set of skills for every position, rather than have a blanket policy for the entire company.

For example, some positions would indeed benefit from the policy of hiring only college graduates with a degree in the relevant field to ensure technical skills and excellent theoretical base. Whereas with others, such as marketing and work with clients, it makes more sense to concentrate on soft skills and bridge the gaps in knowledge with in-house training.

Assess your budget

College graduates, having spent a hefty sum and four years of their lives on getting a higher education, expect better pay, especially if they are encumbered with a student loan debt. However, this very education isn’t required to perform successfully in most positions. It’s just a vanity feature for the employer in the job market oversaturated with MS and BA.

If you are a small business who cannot afford expenses for the sake of image and prestige, you can create your own talent pipeline by training your employees in methods that are specific in your company and focusing your recruiting efforts on filling the entry-level jobs with promising candidates without a degree.

Also, make sure that your entry-level positions are indeed entry-level. Some companies expect their “perfect candidate” to have a master degree in the relevant field and three-year experience. For an entry-level position, mind you. This betrays the whole point of such positions in the first place. You wouldn’t ask someone you hire to wait on tables to have a degree in food chemistry. Why would you do this to your junior SMM?

Experience vs. prospects?

Same goes for the experience. Experienced workers expect (and deserve!) to be properly compensated for their time and skills. Still, some experienced workers can be too set in their ways, which hampers their transition and extends the onboarding period. Moreover, highly qualified workers are more likely to leave for greener pastures.

If you cannot afford a stellar employee with vast experience, you can hunt for undiscovered talent and train your hires as fits your particular needs, while paying lower starting salary and compensating for this with growth perspectives and hand-on training.

Train seamlessly

Also, to retain the hires you should make sure not to overwhelm them with training. Don’t get me wrong – most people love learning new things! Yet learning must be an integrated part of your workflow, it must be seamless and ongoing. Short videos, regular meetups, and knowledge sharing sessions are great examples of training done right. Whereas a week or even a daylong seminar is likely to undermine young employee’s sense of productivity and leave them worrying about all the work they should have been doing instead.

As the bottom line, let me drop a curious fact. According to a study conducted by Leadership IQ, 89% of the time a new hire fails it is for attitudinal reasons, not for technical competence reasons. Still not convinced that you should hire for talent and attitude and not for degree and experience?

Author Bio: Sophia is a newbie online ESL/EFL instructor. She is a passionate educator and blogs about education on her personal blog. She found her true calling — teaching — while she was juggling writing and a 9-5 desk job. When Sophia is not busy earning a living, she volunteers as a social worker. Her active online presence demonstrates her strong belief in the power of networking.