Keyword Search HCX for your Favorite Author / Content

Testing & Assessment

The college degree is a useless overqualification

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Why do we overqualify candidates using education as a mandatory requirement?-

Everyone, Please Please humor me a sec whilst I do some math here..

As it stands, today, according to the United States Census Bureau, less than 31%  the American Population, 25 years or older,  has reached the educational attainment of either a bachelor's degree or higher.   - this includes our amazingly huge baby boomer / Generation Y populations.

So, from these,if we were to subtract about -

  • The 1/4 who went to school only for their MRS degree - (that means moms who stay home and didn't work)
  • Now let's take another percentage of those who went to college for Sports only and never entered the Average workplace - This would not be limited to Basketball, or football, but include Olympics, skating, dancing..
  • Now subtract another percentage of those who went to school to be in the arts.. again not to enter the professional workplace
  • Now subtract from that those who became doctors, lawyers, scientists, Professors and other Non Traditional Professional Jobs.. not the typical office/ sales/ mgmt jobs
  • Subtract from this the individuals who went to school but never utilized the degree for professional purposes because they want to just be the typical trust fund baby, and party..
  • Subtract from this also those who didn't make it into the professional world, and prefer to flip burgers or be waitresses, and waiters.. or just can't get a job..
  • Subtract also those who just left life, and are sitting homeless with their booze and drugs and alcoholics..
  • Subtract also those who may be working at home in a home office, and are happily self employed..
  • Subratct from those who are medically or mentally disabled.
  • Subtract those of the population that are Retired. (those are also counted in the 31% of the population who have attained a degree)

So, that leaves us with about what?  and of course considering that we were Being Generous, because of course many other factors were not considered.. so, with that.. Let’s say for argument purposes, that leaves us with a generous approximate of about 8% of the 31% who have a degree, who are utilizing it in the professional active workplace?

So, by utilizing this extremely generous math, that will leave us with approximately 8% of our population who have a degree that would be employed in an active Workplace / Organizational environment..

So, Putting this math into perspective.. in this massive world of ours, would it be fair to say, that ONLY approx 8% of the Active working Population have the ability to be Sales, "managers", IT Geeks, Recruiters, HR, or any other General Business Professionals, or just even qualified to be in an Office or Professional workplace Environment.. Or even in a trades environment?

If so, then, how limited are we making our Selection process?

And, let's consider One more thing.. when looking at those Numbers - One can definitely make the positive assumption that Bill Gates, Stephen King, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, David Murdock, Ted Turners of the world, are definitely Not an anomaly but, instead more the rule! The Majority, the 90%!

So, ask yourself, when you keep on creating excessive qualifications - As I ask many of my Clients.. how many fantastic stars did you not hire today because of focusing on a very limiting and potentially illegal requirement.. ?


And .. have you ever thought of this .....

A while ago a friend of mine at the EEOC and I had a conversation  along the lines of adverse impact, not only on Race,but also on Age.., we noted that only about 25 - of Baby boomers have ever attained a bachelors degree or higher,  including those who have gone back to school in recent years..

And as I mentioned earlier, above, at least a quarter of them had gone to school school mainly to get their MRS. Degree.. That was of course the "thing" of the era..  never utilizing their education, but instead staying home and being June Cleaver.. which left of course even less of those active in the work place.

In our conversation,we addressed the Education/Age concerns using this example:

Let's say Google was looking for a New CEO to revamp it's company - Bill Gates decided to get out of retirement.

1 - Google then says to Bill Gates, No way, we can't hire you for this position, because we need a degree. Bill Gates obviously has experience, he also has proven ability. He is also over 40. So now, he can reach out to the EEOC and say, wait a minute, they are not hiring me even though I have proven, demonstrated objective experience.. I am over 40 -- Remember - a company doesn't have to have intent to be found guilty of discriminating.. so, even if they didn't have intention of discriminating against him due to age.. it does have that impact... see : EEOC issues Opinion Letter on Disparate Impact of Education (College Degree) Requirements

Now, smart lawyers will have no problem in finding qualified individuals over 40 who had not been hired because they didn't have a degree in joining his lawsuit against Google..

2 - But, on the other hand, what if Google says "of course Bill, even though we have a history of not hiring people w/o Degrees We WILL hire you.. You are awesome.."

Well WAIT a minute.. they hire Bill Gates, even though he didn't have a degree? now EVERY candidate they turned down who is a minority, over 40, disabled, or any other diverse background will say, what gives? How come he was considered qualified without a degree, and we are not? what makes Him so special?

Now there would be another wonderful reason class action..

What a scary road..

So again I ask.. when you keep on creating excessive qualifications - how many fantastic stars did you not hire today because of focusing on a very limiting, and potentially illegal requirement.. ?

See also



EEOC warns employers that requiring High School Diploma May Violate ADA

EEOC issues Opinion Letter on Disparate Impact of Education (College Degree) Requirements

Are You Needlessly over-qualifying candidates? Need help to legally identify better skills?

Uniform Guidelines of the Employment Selection Process - UGESP   

H.R, Employers, Recruiters - are you familiar with the O*Net Resource Center?   


DEGREES OF Absurdity

Irrational or Rational? To a meaningless degree



Karen Mattonen started a career in Human Resources when she served as a Recruiter for Snelling Corporation. Leveraging her tenure with Snelling, Karen founded Advanced Career Solutions in 1997 focusing on the  HVAC and Mechanical Construction industry. Her reputation for excellence is echoed in the satisfaction of clients and candidates she has worked with nationwide. Furthermore, Karen is esteemed for sharing her expertise in Recruitment Education, Ethics and promoting self-regulation for the Recruiting industry.  Karen has a new and future oriented vision of what recruiting can and should become: a profession we can be proud of for its ethical standing, professional conduct and ability to build great organizations.  

Karen was a co-creator of the landmark webinar event – "EEOC Discrimination Debate." This event featured senior members of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and staffing industry experts discussing and debating difficult issues about discrimination in today’s workplace environment. Company executives, hiring managers, recruiters, and human resource professionals from across the United States were invited to participate in the free Webinar and live panel discussion. Karen also served as one of the panelists on the discussion team in the March, 2006 event. 

Outside of the HR community, Karen Mattonen has been cited by Microsoft as a resource in how to use Microsoft Outlook as an ATS. She has also served as the Marketing and Public Relations Director for the 3rd largest city in Utah.

Her passionate and tireless advocacy has led her to create HireCentrix - The Pulse of H.R, Regulation, Retention, Recruiting and Risk Management  Hirecentrix is a company dedicated to providing training to the HR, recruiting and staffing industries, which includes a special focus on the ethical and legal dimensions through offering a full service resource for individuals to share and communicate, obtain current and accurate information, acquire and provide education and learning within the quickly expanding, diverse and rapidly changing Recruiting and Human Resource climate.

Karen has achieved accreditation as a California Accredited Consultant (CAC) through California Staffing Professionals. She has also gained her Certified Staffing Professional Certificate (CSP) through American Staffing Professionals. (

Click here to reach Karen via email.


blog comments powered by Disqus

HCX Facts

Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

Who's Online

We have 217 guests and no members online