There’s a natural assumption that the higher a candidate has achieved in his or her education, the better he or she will perform. And really, this does make sense on a superficial level: higher educational achievements usually means the candidate possesses personality traits and skills that would make for a great employee: abilities to learn high level information, stay focused and motivated, and grasp new (and sometimes abstract) concepts are just some of the qualities that a hiring manager would assume comes with high levels of education. Thus, the natural assumption becomes “if I consider candidates that have higher levels of education, I’ll have the best performing candidates in my applicant pool.”
This, however, is not the case.
This fictitious belief does derive from a place of superficial logic, and we see it so often on job applications (“bachelor’s degree required” for example) that we tend to not even think twice about it. However, just because it’s common in talent acquisition efforts does not make it effective.
At FurstPerson, we often work closely with our clients in their hiring processes to help them continually target and recruit the best candidates possible. We make sure to evaluate all different aspects of performance, including how well different educational backgrounds stacked up against one another. In one case with an insurance organization, we examined educational background against six different performance metrics. The result was that there’s no noticeable difference in quality of hire or performance, regardless of how far the candidate went in their education.
Restricting your applicant pool to certain levels of education doesn’t help increase overall performance, but it does have negative impacts on your talent acquisition. Specifically, by limiting your recruiting processes to certain educational levels you are now shrinking your applicant pool and making it more challenging on yourself to fill vacant positions. With longer times to fill positions as it is, making an applicant pool smaller will only further lengthen that time. That results in more money invested in recruiting, and therefore a longer ROI on candidates you select – all without any increase in performance.
The idea that level of education will dictate performance is superficial and not factual. And, while performance is not indicated by education, limiting your applicant pool can put a hindrance on your recruiting and make it harder to fill positions because your applicant pool will be smaller.
For more advice on knowing what to look for - and what not to look for - in your talent acquisition processes, download this whitepaper on developing a quality of hire report card below.