Photo Credit: shutterstock
At one time, the goal of any young student was to finish high school, complete a four-year university degree, and then land a prestigious job with a top employer. But that’s no longer the case. Some of the biggest, most influential tech companies in the world – such as Google and Apple – no longer require candidates to have a four-year college degree. And that’s not just for non-tech jobs (such as becoming a recruiter for these companies) – it’s also for tech-oriented jobs such as software engineer or engineering product manager. So what’s behind this trend?
New technologies fueled by social media
Of course, one major factor in this trend is the so-called “talent gap” created by rapid technological change. Simply put, there are more tech openings than there are candidates to fill them, so companies have had to become a lot more creative about who to hire. For example, the role of data scientist is still so new that companies are having a hard time finding candidates with previous experience in data science, so they are expanding their search to include candidates from similar fields, such as mathematics. The same holds true for other technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, or blockchain.
What’s important is that social media giants like Facebook are embracing these technologies, and that means these types of new job titles are proliferating much more rapidly than anyone could have imagined. For example, Facebook is one of the biggest investors in artificial intelligence, due to the need to improve its algorithms on a continual basis. And Facebook has actually been at the forefront of many big tech trends, including the move to a mobile computing environment from a desktop computing environment, spurring the need for mobile developers. Facebook has also become a leader in online video and virtual reality (via its Oculus investment). And, since WhatsApp is an end-to-end encrypted communication platform, Facebook is presumably also is looking to hire trained cryptographers.
The creation of new social media-related job functions
Many job titles today require candidates to have social media skills, and this is making it much easier for young jobseekers to demonstrate the requisite skills for openings – even if they don’t have a formal education. For example, hospitality giant Hilton is one company that is no longer requiring a college degree, and some of the job roles it is hiring for include event manager and front office manager. No doubt, these jobs require people to post updates on Instagram and Facebook, and to reply to guest inquiries via Twitter. Wouldn’t you rather hire a young twentysomething Instagram influencer for these roles – even if that person hasn’t completed a traditional university program?
Alternative training and classes on social media
And there’s one other way that social media has been responsible for the end of the four-year college degree paradigm: it has championed the rise of alternative training options. LinkedIn, for example, now offers training and educational options designed for the busy professional who wants to catch up on the latest trends, or to learn a new skill. Facebook, too, has experimented with a new jobs platform. Across the social media industry, gaining “micro-certifications” or completing online courses is the new norm – so it’s easy to see why companies like Google, Apple and IBM are increasingly recognizing this fact when hiring.
Clearly, something has changed in the public zeitgeist. Four-year university degrees are still important, of course. But there’s also a realization that technology is changing so fast that a four-week coding bootcamp might make more sense than a four-year degree in some cases. Social media giants have certainly helped to popularize this notion, and deserve much of the credit for changing the conventional wisdom about four-year college degrees.