"No Experience Necessary": Employers Slash Job Requirements Amid Worker Shortage

While the media has been focused on Russia and porn stars, low unemployment and a roaring economy thanks to trillions in stimulus have forced employers across the country to relax their hiring standards in order to fill positions, reports the Wall Street Journal

In short, Americans looking to break into their dream career or land their first job are in luck - as employers are having trouble finding employees using the stringent job requirements they were able to demand during the recession, when millions were out of work and HR departments were flooded with applicants. 

Across incomes and industries, the lower bar to getting hired is helping self-taught programmers attain software engineering roles at Intel Corp. INTC and GitHub Inc., the coding platform, and improving the odds for high-school graduates who aspire to be branch managers at Bank of America Corp. BAC and Terminix pest control. -WSJ

Remember this? 

Not so much anymore, though that MBA might not be quite the investment it once was thanks to a new practice called "down skilling." 

To attract more entry-level employees, toy maker Hasbro Inc. divided four marketing jobs, which it previously designed for business-school graduates with M.B.A.’s, into eight lower-level positions. The new full-time roles included a marketing coordinator, retail-planning analyst and trade merchandiser, all involving more routine activities supporting higher-level staff in the division.

Hasbro hiring managers originally sought candidates with a two-year degree for the jobs but ultimately dropped any college requirement, a spokeswoman said. The Pawtucket, R.I. company received more than 100 applications and hired nine people. -WSJ

“Candidates have so many options today,” said Amy Glaser, senior VP of staffing agency Adecco Group, which services around 10,000 corporate clients. “If a company requires a degree, two rounds of interviews and a test for hard-skills, candidates can go down the street to another employer who will make them an offer that day.”

Glaser says around 25% of the agency's corporate clients have made drastic changes to their job requirements since the start of 2018 - such as skipping drug tests or criminal background checks, and dropping requirements for a higher degree or even a high-school diploma. 


Relaxed job requirements are understandably more common in regions with low unemployment such as Dallas and Louisville, says Glaser. In Thornton, Colorado - Amazon is trying to fulfill a 1,500 worker requirement for a new warehouse later this summer, with positions starting at $12.50 an hour - but may find it difficulat considering Denver's ultra-low 2.3% unemployment rate. 

“We are hiring quickly to open later this summer,” said Lauren Lynch, a spokeswoman for the online retailer. The new wave of hires will more than double the 1,300 people the Seattle-based company now employs at two facilities in Aurora. 

The company hopes its benefits package will attract employees - which includes medical, dental and vision coverage, up to five months of paid parental leave, a 401(k), stock awards and performace-based bonuses. 

“Any employer that is offering health care will instantly have a leg up. That seems to be one of the primary concerns for job seekers,” said Kyle Kensing, an online content editor at San Diego-based CareerCast, which track labor market trends. -Denver Post

The lack of highly qualified candidates has left employers with three options: Offer more money upfront, lower standards, or retrain current staff to perform other necessary skills. 

Despite their warehouse hiring spree, Amazon's overall hiring rate has slowed thanks to internal shuffling vs. external hires. While its headcount of 575,700 employees is still up 50% over a year ago, 87,000 of those came from the Whole Foods acquisition, and YTD headcount is only up around 2% thanks to internal transfers. 

“What we are doing is probably hiring and transferring more people internally in the last six months, so the net hiring hasn’t been driven by external hiring, it’s been more by internal transfers and re-leveling in some areas and seeing where we maybe need to add back,” said Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky on a Tuesday conference call with reporters. 

Overall, the percentage of job postings which requested a college degree fell to 30% from 32% last yerar, while minimum qualifications have been drifting lower since 2012 - when companies required degrees for 34% of the same positions. 

Length of employment requirements have also fallen: 

Only 23% of entry-level jobs now ask applicants for three or more years of experience, compared with 29% back in 2012, putting another 1.2 million jobs in closer reach of more applicants, Burning Glass data show. Through the end of last year, another one million new jobs were opened up to candidates with “no experience necessary,” making occupations like e-commerce analyst, purchasing assistant and preschool teacher available to novices and those without a degree. -WSJ

Staffing companies have been forced to tell employers who are unwilling to relax their standards the harsh truth; 

Asheville, NC-based SCM Talent Group CEO Rodney Apple told the Journal that if companies won’t budge on compensation, experience or education requirements, he walks away.

“We tell them, ‘I’m sorry, but we can’t help you fish for the few underpaid or unaware applicants left out there.’ ”

SCM recruits workers for dozens of small and midsize companies looking for supply-chain managers and warehouse employees across the US. Apple says he hasn't seen this type of talent shortage in his nearly 20 years of recruiting

Another company forced to lower the bar for new hires is Terminix - which revised their requirements for pest-control branch and service manager positions from a "mandatory" two-year degree or bachelor's degree to "preferred," according to Betsy Vincent, senior director of talent acquisition. 

Anthony Whitehead worked for five years as a Terminix branch manager in Florida before he was promoted to regional director in early July. That position now accepts candidates with college degrees or equivalent experience, helping Mr. Whitehead clinch the role despite his earlier decision to enter the military instead of college.

Mr. Whitehead, 35, said his approach to jobs requiring a degree has been “apply anyways if I have the right experience, and then have the education conversation if I need to,” he said, acknowledging his luck in working for companies like Terminix with flexible requirements. -WSJ

Meanwhile, as college requirements are dropping, the percentage of Americans with increasingly irrelevant bachelor's degrees continues to rise. Bank of America, for example, has 7,500 job openings worldwide, and less than 10% of them require a degree according to company spokesman Andy Alridge. From bank tellers to customer-service to fraud-protection, that shiny expensive four-year degree and all the debt that came with it are no longer required for an increasing number of jobs. 

In June, BofA announced plans to hire 10,000 more retail workers from low-income neighborhoods over the next five years, with or without college degrees, according to Chris Payton, head of talent acquisition. 

GitHub, recently acquired by Microsoft Corp. , said it hasn’t required college degrees for most positions in years. Degrees are optional for many “experienced hire” positions at chip maker Intel Corp., which also has a “tech grad” job category the company describes as fitting candidates with relevant classroom or work experience from technical programs, such as coding boot camps. -WSJ

Will the music ever stop? Of course it will. Until then, basement-dwelling boomerang millennials can peel themselves off that vinyl couch and get to work - since they're all out of excuses.