Hiring new employees with online degrees

Over the past decade or so you’ve been taking your business more and more online. Maybe you’re a software company that had its inception after internet use was commonplace. Or maybe you’re a brick-and-mortar shop that’s slowly moved bits and pieces of the business online, for things like sales tracking, taxes, and customer support.

It’s happening because it makes sense. And if it makes sense for business, doesn’t it make sense for education? Students and colleges alike are finding increased opportunities through online class offerings. Businesses shouldn’t discriminate against students who are taking advantage of the convenience and practicality of the internet in earning their degrees.

These days, prestigious universities like Harvard and Stanford are offering free online courses. They don’t offer degrees yet through their online programs, but other colleges do, and, in my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before the big names follow suit.

Sure, some of the early players in online education were scammers offering questionable degrees, but ask almost any student today who’s taken an online class, and she’ll tell you the online version is much more rigorous than the classroom version. Would you rather have a student who took computer science classes at the local party school and got a diploma, or one who passed every online class from Stanford but doesn’t have a piece of paper to hang on the wall?

I suggest two criteria for avoiding possible pitfalls in hiring online grads:

1. If you are unfamiliar with the school issuing the degree, give the candidate a skill test. This should rule out students with diplomas from scam schools.

2. Always conduct an in-person interview. There are places to pick up social skills outside the dorm experience, and the interview will make sure that your candidate has done so.

There are even some ways that candidates who went to college online outshine their fraternity-hall counterparts. They tend to have good self-organization skills. By default they have enough computer skills to interact with both people and complex software online. Also, the classes they’ve completed tend to be more rigorous and well-documented.

Start seeking out graduates from online programs to widen your pool of skilled candidates.

By Sharon Campbell

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