Is it time to ease your hiring requirements and modernize benefits?

When unemployment peaked after the 2008 recession, companies could afford to inflate job requirements to find the perfect fit. But today’s super-tight labor market has more employers lowering the bar to broaden their candidate pool and speed up hiring. Adjusting benefits and perks is also becoming a top priority to attract new talent.

One “down skilling” trend: removal of college degree requirements.

Google, Apple and IBM are among the companies that no longer require applicants to hold college degrees, according to a list compiled by job-search site Glassdoor. Terminix, which added a college prerequisite for its branch managers in 2009, decided earlier this year to reverse course and make degrees “preferred” but not mandatory.

Today, 30% of job postings call for a college degree, down from 34% six years ago, according to Burning Glass Technologies’ analysis of 15 million online ads:

2012: 34%

2017: 32%

2018: 30%

Long work-history requirements are also being relaxed. This year, only 23% of entry-level jobs ask applicants for three or more years of experience, compared with 29% in 2012.

“It makes no sense to cling to old hiring practices when we live and work in a whole new world,” says Danny Iny, author of the book Leveraged Learning. “Not only are there plenty of smart young people out there who are choosing not to follow the traditional path, those who do follow it often don’t have the skills employers need.”

Iny says employers too often use college degrees as a “psychological shortcut” to sort out good candidates. That may have made sense when 5% held college degrees in 1900, but not today when nearly 40% of working Americans have degrees.

The solution? Iny suggests:

Shift your mindset to override the “degree” signal. Take a close look at what really leads to success in your workplace, then revise your job postings to reflect the stuff that actually matters. For example, Laszlo Bock, Google’s former HR chief, has said that looking at grades in degree programs is “worthless as a criteria for hiring.”

Switch off the applicant filtering related to education. Focus more on assessments and simulations that actually give you a sense of what candidates can bring to the table.

Look at other educational streams. Tech companies like GE Digital look for nontraditional degrees, such as coding programs. At Intel, college degrees are optional for many “experienced hire” positions.

Consider ditching the résumé requirement. Instead, ask candidates to fill out an online application that includes behavior questions. Ask candidates to perform tasks that simulate the job. Some candidates may have the qualities you want but don’t come across well on a résumé.

For more complicated jobs consider paying a candidate to take on a project. Or hire someone on a contract basis to make sure they have the right stuff before you extend a more permanent offer.

Develop a culture of learning and growth. While it’s important to find the right candidates, it’s even more important to make sure you continue to develop them.

Take Another Look at Your Benefits and Compensation Plans, Too

As the war for talent in today’s tightening labor market intensifies, a majority of U.S. employers are taking steps to modernize their total rewards programs, according to a survey by the Willis Towers Watson consulting firm.

The company broadly defined total rewards to include compensation, wellness programs, benefits, flexible work, recognition, training and career develop­­ment opportunities.

Nearly two-thirds of employers have already made at least one change to their total rewards program. Those changes include:

Greater flexibility: 61% of employers are considering providing more flexibility (e.g., with regard to benefits, working arrangements, career options) this year or within three years. Seventeen percent have already done so.

Health and wellness: Over the past three years, 40% of employers have made progress in promoting wellness.

Technology: 60% of employers expect to improve technology to administer benefits this year or within three years. More than a quarter already have.