Friday, October 31, 2014

Bachelor’s degree requirements: Big deal or big bust when recruiting candidates?

I am going to share a little secret with you. With five-and-a half years of higher education and two bachelor’s degrees I have only used a portion of what I learned in college in my career.

That’s not to say I haven’t used anything from college, in fact I have utilized what I learned in my human resources classes, legal courses, and marketing classes. You can thank Boise State University for my ability to write these articles as well (I was a terrible writer going into college). However, I certainly haven’t used anything from my statistics, calculus or computer information systems classes.

Obtaining my degrees wasn’t easy. In fact, it was one of the hardest things I had to do. As a young adult I was learning what the real world was like on my own, working full-time and going to school full-time.

No one paved my way or gave me handouts to help. I had to do everything on my own. I learned about what it takes to finance life goals when you do not have the financial resources to do so (i.e. student loans). If that wasn’t enough, I had to learn how to persevere when I tragically lost my brother my sophomore year and had my husband deployed to Iraq my senior year.

I almost gave up. Actually, I was probably a couple semesters away from Boise State giving up on me at one point. But I didn’t give up. You see that despite all the hard work, heartache and just wanting to take some steps back when I was being pushed forward, I knew that without at least a bachelor’s degree I would never be able to have the career I wanted or even be considered for jobs I wanted.

I was right. After college, any and every job I wanted in human resources required at least a bachelor’s degree at a minimum. It wasn’t until after college I realized how valuable those little pieces of paper with my name on them were. Not only were they my ticket into the stadium of career dreams, they were my ticket onto the playing field.

Now on the other side of the table, recruiting day in and day out through our firm – with jobs from entry level administrative assistants all the way up to executive directors – I am faced with determining what qualifications we will require as a foundation and a basis of knowledge to attract and retain top level talent. And guess what? We too require bachelor’s degrees, some courses in higher education, or at least equivalent experience for certain positions.

My take on recruiting and qualifications isn’t unique and has become more or less the norm for recruiting these days. The fact is, companies want to see a bachelor’s degree for most of the jobs that they will recruit for. As we discussed last week, nationally more and more companies are requiring bachelor’s degrees for entry level jobs.

But why? What’s the big deal about a $30,000 plus piece of paper? And more importantly why does it make or break your chances of getting a job? Well there are a lot of reasons, to be honest with you.

One of the very basic reasons that companies require some degree of higher education is to streamline qualification requirements – especially in the application process – and later on ensure that job descriptions can be streamlined. This is extremely important to ensure an employer has base level analysis and requirements for jobs, to try to ensure discriminatory recruiting, hiring and retention practices are in place. Companies need a way to compare candidate vs. candidate in a very basic and streamlined way – and degree requirements are an easy way to do that.

Employers also require education or degrees in higher education to try to ensure that candidates have a base level knowledge of what is needed to be successful in a job. Now, employers typically aren’t going to give you the equivalent of a degree-related SAT, but by knowing you obtained a degree
within a certain major (i.e. finance, marketing, communications, business, etc.) the employer is aware of the courses required to complete the degree program. Employers that specifically require degrees or coursework within a certain major have targeted the foundational areas of knowledge needed for the job.

However, on the other side of the spectrum, employers that are just seeking a bachelor’s degree without any specific major are probably doing a disservice to themselves and potential candidates.
Bachelor’s degrees don’t necessarily equal the most qualified candidates in this case.

Lastly, completing a degree program is a strong demonstration to employers of a candidate’s degree of dedication. Most bachelor’s degrees take an average of five years to obtain. This means that candidates have dedicated half a decade of their lives to obtaining that pricey of piece of paper, picking a major, completing course after course down the degree checklist, stressing over test after test during finals week, writing paper after paper, and participating in everyone’s favorite “team or project” group assignment. There’s also the issue financing: financial arrangements with the college or university each semester, possibly going into debt that will have to be paid off long after the diploma is framed and hung in an office.

When employers require a degree as a part of their recruiting and hiring process keep in mind they aren’t trying to hire the right degree. They are trying to hire the right person. Sometimes that right person has professional experience that is above and beyond what any degree program could have ever accomplished, and we do take that into consideration too.

Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Associates, a human resources company in Idaho Falls.

Riverbend stations add Dave Ramsey to weekday lineup

Dave Ramsey
Riverbend Communications’ news and talk stations, NewsTalk 97.7FM, KEIR-AM (1260 AM) and KEII-AM (690 AM) added The Dave Ramsey Show to their weekday line up beginning Monday. The show will be broadcast live weekdays from noon to 3 p.m.

Dave Ramsey is one of America’s most popular talk radio hosts, with more than 8 million listeners on 500-plus stations nationwide. Nearly 20 years ago, he began his radio show in Nashville, only a few years after he climbed out of bankruptcy. The painful reality of his life story feeds the compassion and sincerity he has for each caller. Listeners respond to the tough love and appreciate the straight talk.

“This is an exciting relevant program to add to our line-up,” said Mike Nelson, operations manager for Riverbend Communications, which owns the stations. “It’s also a great alternative to political talk offered at the same time.”

Idaho’s Midday News with Jolyn Thomas, east Idaho’s only live and local midday talk show, will be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Teton Pharmacy open on West Broadway

Teton Pharmacy owner Jason Bailey
Teton Pharmacy had a grand opening and ribbon cutting Tuesday at its branch at 1855 West Broadway, in the same building as Papa' Murphy's Pizza.

This is part of an expansion and refiguring of the business since Jason Bailey bought it in 2008. After decades off Channing Way, Bailey moved the pharmacy, home health, hospice and medical equipment business to a new, 6,000-square-foot building on Hitt Road, south of Sunnyside. "Being so far on the east side, we found we needed a branch to serve our customers on the west side," he said.

The big question is, of course, how does a relatively small, local operator compete with Walgreen's, which will have a brand new store at Skyline and West Broadway open by then end of the year?

In 2011, the pharmacy giant took a hard stand with Blue Cross of Idaho and decided not to re-sign its contract with Express Scripts, Blue Cross' pharmacy benefits manager. Blue Cross balked, and sent a a letter to members saying that allowing Walgreen's back into the network would result in higher fees that would be passed on to members. When Walgreen's tried to renegotiate, Blue Cross said no.

This means that people employed by the Idaho National Laboratory, the city of Idaho Falls and Idaho Falls School District 91 have to pay significantly more to have their prescriptions fills at Walgreen's. The situation will remain that way until at least 2017.

"It is a big advantage," Bailey said. "The other advantage is that at Walgreen's you wait 45 minutes for a prescription and we can have you in and out of here in less than 10."

Monday, October 27, 2014

I.F. BMW dealership receives recognition

BMW of Idaho Falls has been named Number 5 in the United States in the company’s annual Center of Excellence honors. The awards go to BMW dealerships that distinguished themselves through exceptional performance, consistent brand representation and a dedication to providing an outstanding customer experience.

Of the 339 BMW dealers in the United States, 32 achieved "2014 Center of Excellence" status based on their 2013 performance.

Dealers are listed below in numerical order based on their final scores:
1 Hendrick BMW, Charlotte, N.C.

2 BMW of Murrieta, Murrieta, Calif.

3 BMW of Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii

4 Valencia BMW, Valencia, Calif.

5 BMW of Idaho Falls, Idaho Falls
6 BMW of Beaumont, Beaumont, Texas

7 Peter Pan BMW, San Mateo, Calif.

8 Hilton Head BMW, Bluffton, S.C.

9 BMW of Corpus Christi, Corpus Christi, Texas

10 Sun Motor Cars BMW, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Limited education = Limited career opportunities

Remember your high school graduation? It was the day you could say so long to the days of required classes, schoolwork, and schedules and hello to an endless summer vacation of freedom. After high school we were free to make our own choices, choose or not choose college. We were sure to find a job where we made TONS of money without having to go to school. That’s how it happened for you right?

It’s nice to dream of what should’ve been, and not long ago this ideal wasn’t too far off track.
Decades ago, graduating high school was the transition into adulthood and was the standard to securing a solid future. Of course college was encouraged, but on a very general basis the same or similar opportunities were available to high school and college graduates alike.

Today is a different story.

First a disclaimer: a college degree isn’t necessarily a reason I will or won’t hire someone. I strongly feel that real world career experience can often times mean a candidate has the same, or even more experience over a candidate with a college degree. Bill Gates didn’t graduate from college, and I am pretty sure no one would require him to have a college degree to be considered for any position.

But Bill Gates is a career fairy tale come true and the exception to almost every rule.
Bachelor’s degrees have replaced the high school diploma as a minimum educational requirement for any decent paying job in today’s job market. Shockingly, it has become a standard at some companies as necessary for an entry level jobs.

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, three out of 10 companies are hiring more college-educated workers for jobs held in the past primarily by high school graduates.

It doesn’t seem right, but it is true and it’s only just begun. Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, recently said, “Employers are filling more entry level functions with educated labor. While some of this may be attributed to a competitive job market that lends itself to college grads taking lower skill jobs, it also speaks to companies raising performance expectations for roles within their firms to enhance overall productivity, product quality and sales."

As a college graduate, business owner and self-proclaimed management expert, this surprised me but made sense all the same. It makes sense that companies are trying to hire an educated workforce at rock bottom wages by giving them entry level positions.

What this actually means is that there is a hiring trend nationwide in which companies, big and small, are requiring an associate’s degree and above just to be a janitor and clean the toilets. Additionally, it means that bachelor’s degrees often aren’t the end of the road for people who want to move up the career ladder. Master’s degrees have become more prevalent as necessary for top level management and executive positions.

As a college graduate holding two bachelor’s degrees, I sympathize with anyone who asks why go to college for four or five years, racking up thousands of dollars in debt, just to earn the right to be considered for a receptionist’s position? You could have counted me in that group years ago, but as the markets change it’s looking more and more like there isn’t even a choice.

Employers are calling the shots, and for them it’s a buyer’s market. This doesn’t apply to employers trying to immediately fill highly specialized positions. But in a general sense employers have more opportunity than ever to take the time to recruit, attract, select and retain the employees that fit their perfect checklist.

So what is the big deal with college degrees anyway? Why do employers care that you have an overpriced piece of paper with your name on it? Next week and we will discuss why employers feel degree-holding candidates are a must in their businesses.
Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, an Idaho Falls human resources company.