People without four-year college degrees can “qualify for many federal roles, such as administrative and entry-level positions,” but federal agencies may overlook them as job candidates and can do more to retain those they do hire, says a report from the Partnership for Public Service
“Employers often view four-year degrees, typically bachelor’s degrees, as indicating a certain level of competency. They tend to hire applicants with four-year degrees over those without, even when their skill sets are the same or the role does not explicitly require a degree,” says the report, which focuses on hiring by agency locations in California but whose considerations apply nationwide.
In recruiting, it says agencies can help themselves by “using a more skills-based hiring assessment” rather than numeric systems that assign a certain number of points for educational levels—and which can disadvantage such candidates to the point that they won’t get an interview regardless of their other qualifications.
It also recommends building relationships with community colleges and workforce development organizations that can act as sources of job candidates.
Those without four-year degrees often have fewer professional development opportunities to offer than organizations in nonfederal sectors, it added. However, it noted that budget limits restrict funding available for training or advancements through relocations and that employees without a four-year degree can be disadvantaged in applying for a higher-level position in the same way they are in initial hiring.
“One model agencies can use to avoid this issue is the career ladder position, which allows for an employee to advance within a certain range of GS levels without reapplying for each promotion. A manager may choose to promote career ladder employees to the next GS level in the range one year after their hire or previous promotion, if their performance meets job expectations,” it said.