A four-year degree can be a valuable credential in hiring, but it’s not the only way to assess talent, according to a report by Bain and Co., OneTen and Grads of Life. A skills-first hiring approach can mitigate the barrier and make the process fairer for all job applicants.

Switching to skills-first hiring also helps open job opportunities for Black talent.

“Skills-first hiring not only widens job opportunities for qualified candidates to be considered but has a strong business case for success,” says Maurice Jones, CEO of OneTen. “Skills-first hiring criteria are five times more predictive of future job performance than educational background and two and a half times more predictive than work experience.”

Bain found that more than 60% of middle-skilled positions in America today are “soft bachelor’s” jobs. This means they are positions for which four-year college degrees are required by the employer even though it is not a good evaluation for the skills needed to perform the job.

Tech can fight ‘sleepworking

Managers are unknowingly putting employees in a state of “sleepworking” — an inability to perform at their full potential because of a lack of technology, according to Domo, a business intelligence software company.

More than half of the 3,000 workers surveyed, 58%, say their need for technology has increased in the last five years, but their access to tech tools isn’t keeping up.

“In this economy, organizations of all sizes must optimize every aspect of their business. And while one of the biggest and most strategic investments a business makes is in its people, organizations are not unlocking the full potential of their workforce if employees are ‘sleepworking’,” Domo CEO John Mellor says. “However, the results of this study show that with access to the right data and tools, every employee can be happier in their jobs and become multipliers of business impact.”

The remote role gap

Professionals remain interested in remote work, but companies are offering fewer such roles, according to data from Built In, a tech recruiting platform based in Chicago.

Built In reported that job listings for remote work fell to 38% of all listings on its site in January 2023 from 46% in March 2022. On the other hand, more than 70% of all job applications are going to remote roles, and 30% are going to in-office jobs.

The difference between what companies offer and what candidates want could leave some companies in a bind, according to Built In CEO Maria Christopolous Katris, especially when the number of open tech roles exceed qualified candidates.

Cybersecurity pros least affected by layoffs

Despite looming recession concerns, cybersecurity teams will be least impacted by staffing cuts in 2023, according to a report by the International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, or (ISC)². The report found that C-suite executives view cybersecurity as an essential, valuable asset that is a strategic priority.

“The importance placed on cybersecurity professionals, even during uncertain economic times, suggests that top executives understand the critical need for a strong cybersecurity team now more than ever,” says Clar Rosso, CEO of (ISC)². “This is not surprising given the upward trend in recent years where a weakening economy combined with political tensions has led to increased cyber threats.”

To assess the impact of a potential economic downturn on cybersecurity teams, (ISC)² polled 1,000 C-suite executives in December 2022 across Germany, Japan, Singapore, the UK and the US. While 85% of respondents expect layoffs will be necessary at their organizations, only 10% of organizations are likely to cut jobs in cybersecurity compared to other business areas, such as human resources (30%), finance (24%), operations (24%), marketing (22%) and sales (22%).