Candidates with Online Degrees: Hiring Do or Don’t?

iStock_000077660405_SmallUniversity of Phoenix.

Kaplan University.

DeVry.

Be honest. When you find an exceptional candidate with an online degree, what’s your initial reaction:


Take a pass, or take a closer look?

Here’s why it should be the latter.

  • Online courses are not necessarily “easier.” To successfully complete an online degree, a student must be disciplined, mature and self-directed in their learning (qualities they will bring to the table as a potential employee).
  • More online degree programs are being offered by accredited institutions. These programs adhere to the same stringent academic standards as their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
  • Some online MBAs are now considered elite. While online degrees have been stigmatized as “second-rate” by employers for years, there’s been a recent, notable shift in attitudes. Programs at Kelley and Kenan-Flagler have even made Bloomberg Businesweek’s list of top 20 MBA programs.
  • “Degree mills” are facing increased scrutiny. While some online, for-profit institutions engage in questionable practices – facing criticism that they’re “degree mills” focused primarily on taking students’ money and federal aid – this scrutiny has prompted many organizations to change their ways.

    Many institutions are now much more selective in their admissions, and many students are choosing nonprofit schools. In fact, according to a recent Society for Human Resource Management article, nearly 70 percent of online students now earn online degrees at private nonprofits, public colleges and universities.

  • The “where” of a degree is only a small part of a candidate’s total employment package. And in today’s talent market, hiring managers who shy away from otherwise qualified candidates with accredited online degrees run the very real risk of missing out on exceptional professionals.

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