March 2021 Newsletter

Salary to be included within online Job Ads, YES or NO?
 With the ongoing challenge to retain and attract high-in-demand tech skills, the big debate at the moment from firms advertising for staff is whether to include salaries within online job ads or not!

From a candidates perspective, every candidate we have asked, they have all said “absolutely” the ad should include the salary, so that they are not wasting their time or the firms time in applying for roles which offer a lower or the same salary as they are on now, when it gets to offer stage.

From a firms perspective, with on average 6% pay rises from firms to try and retain their staff, but with-in general a 35% increase in salaries to attract these high-in-demand skills, firms are in the dilemma of being transparent about salaries!

In recent successful recruitment projects, Team Proxime have indeed seen salary offers up towards the 35% increase level. 
For further advice on salaries and to assist you in finding these very sought-after tech skills, contact me and the great team Proxime at

David Gadd
Director, Talent Acquisition.

Skills-Based Hiring Is on the Rise  

Early in the 2000s, a significant number of employers began adding degree requirements to the descriptions of jobs that hadn’t previously required degrees, even though the jobs themselves hadn’t changed. The trend — sometimes known as “degree inflation” — became particularly pronounced after the Great Recession of 2008-2009, at which point leaders in government, business, and community-based organizations recognized that a reset was in order. Many large corporations soon announced that they would eliminate degree requirements in much of their hiring.

A decade has now passed, and it seems time to ask: Have companies followed through? Has the degree-inflation tide turned? If so, what role, if any, has Covid-19 played in making that happen?

To find out, we partnered with Emsi Burning Glass, a leading labor-market data company, and analyzed more than 51 million jobs posted between 2017 and 2020. What we’ve learned is that employers are indeed resetting degree requirements in a wide variety of roles. The change is most noticeable for middle-skill positions — defined as those requiring some post-secondary education or training but less than a four-year degree. To a lesser extent, the change is also noticeable at some companies for higher-skill positions. (The full report on our findings can be accessed via Harvard Business School, on its Managing the Future of Work project home page, and via Emsi Burning Glass, here.)

This recent reset has happened in two waves, both of which are ongoing. The first, a structural reset, began in 2017, at the outset of the 2017–2019 bull market for workers. The second, a cyclical reset, began in 2020, prompted in part by the Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s consider each in turn.

Structural reset.

If demand for talent far outreaches supply, employers de-emphasize degrees. That became increasingly apparent during the tight employment market of the late 2010s. Between 2017 and 2019, employers reduced degree requirements for 46% of middle-skill positions and 31% of high-skill positions. Among the jobs most affected were those in IT and managerial occupations, which were hard to fill during that period.

The essence of the structural reset is this: In evaluating job applicants, employers are suspending the use of degree completion as a proxy and instead now favor hiring on the basis of demonstrated skills and competencies. This shift to skills-based hiring will open opportunities to a large population of potential employees who in recent years have often been excluded from consideration because of degree inflation. (This population includes potential employees that have been described as “hidden workers” and “STARs.”)

This structural reset is a promising development. But there’s still a long way to go. Of the middle-skill job descriptions we reviewed, 37% showed no reduction in degree requirements, which means that some 15.7 million people have effectively been walled out of the candidate pool, even as employers complain bitterly about the unavailability of workers.

Cyclical reset.

Desperate to find skilled workers during the pandemic, which has been the biggest health crisis of modern times, many employers have been willing, at least temporarily, to forgo degree requirements for many jobs. In job announcements for intensive-care and critical-care nurses, for example, the share of postings asking for a bachelor’s degree declined by 12 percentage point between 2019 and 2020, from 35% to 23%. Degree requirements for registered nurses fell by a more modest 5 percentage points. Overall, we observed this pandemic-related reset in roughly 548,000 job postings, involving 27% of middle- and high-skill occupations. The shift may reflect only a temporary accommodation in the face of an emergency, which is why we consider it a cyclical rather than a structural reset, but nonetheless, given its scale, it’s likely to teach us a lot about whether workers who have degrees actually perform better than newly hired workers who do not. Previous research suggests that performance differences are often marginal outside specific fields such as professional services and finance.

Are degree requirements really going away?

To understand what sorts of change are happening as companies abolish degree requirements, we studied announcements for information-technology jobs at several leading employers. We selected IT both because it has been plagued by chronic supply-demand imbalances and because many of its positions are similar across companies.

Each company we studied had recently announced the elimination of degree requirements companywide. What we found, however, was that in practice they all continue to make higher than average demands for college degrees. Oracle, for example, requires degrees in well over 90% of the IT postings we sampled, including all of its network administrators. The national average is only 52%.

That said, we found marked differences in how often companies require a degree for IT positions, even when hiring for the same one. Consider the job of software quality-assurance engineer. Only 26% of Accenture’s postings for the position contained a degree requirement. Likewise, only 29% of IBM’s did. But the percentages were dramatically different at Oracle (100%), Intel (94%), HP (92%), and Apple (90%).

More broadly, by the end of 2021, Accenture and IBM had consistently distinguished themselves in their efforts to walk back degree inflation: At Accenture, only 43% of postings for IT jobs contained a degree requirement, and at IBM, only 29% did. Other major technology players who had made similar policy announcements accomplished much less. We found no change between 2017 and 2021, for example, in the share of postings requiring degrees for these same IT positions at Microsoft and Facebook — and the share increased substantially at Intel. We did find a significant change Apple and Google, but even so, more than 70% of their IT job postings still required a degree.

Given that technical, or “hard,” skills, can be easily confirmed through pre-employment testing, certification, and employment history, why are so many employers still requiring degrees?

Perhaps because they believe that college graduates possess more-refined social, or “soft,” skills — the ability to work in groups, say, or to communicate efficiently in real-time, or to prioritize tasks. These skills are far harder to assess, and our analysis strongly suggests that as a result many employers are using college degrees as a proxy for them. Employers who eliminated degree requirements, we found, frequently added more-detailed soft-skills requirements in their postings.

Full article from Harvard Business Review here.

What does ‘Flexible Week’ Really Mean?

On the Today show recently, LinkedIn editor in chief Dan Roth proclaimed that 2022 will be the year of the four-day work week. He has also noted that almost three-quarters of workers say that flexibility is their top priority when looking for new gigs. “Companies are going to use this to bring workers in the door,” he says. “It’s going to be a competitive advantage, and then everyone has got to keep up.”

Other approaches to flexibility include, say, spending three days at home and two in the office. It might even mean working together in person on some days, but only from 10 to 3 (to avoid soul-crushing rush hour traffic, for one thing). That’s something Brent Hecht, director of applied science in Microsoft’s Experiences and Devices organization and one of the leaders of Microsoft’s New Future of Work initiative, tried with his team before the Omicron surge sent everyone back to remote. “When we did spend time in the office, we thought about those times as shared hours versus shared days,” he says.

The Great Reshuffle and new employee expectations mean that an openness to working anytime, anywhere must be part of any competitive strategy: there is no longer any one way to work, making flexibility key. Instead, companies should envision a kind of fluidity that lets everyone integrate work more holistically into their lives. The trick is figuring out how to do this in a way that balances business outcomes with people and their wellbeing.

“Enabling flexibility has obvious benefits for employees, but it’s not a zero-sum game,” says Jared Spataro, Microsoft corporate vice president of modern work. “It can also lead to positive outcomes for customers and ultimately bolster the bottom line. Achieving this win-win isn’t a given—it requires a proactive and deliberate approach that embraces entirely new ways of thinking. The opportunity in front of leaders today is a big one, and if done right can help them find the balance between business outcomes and employee growth and wellbeing.”

A Trusted Strategy, Tested in a Crisis

It’s an opportunity experts have been exploring for some time. The idea of flexible work began to emerge in the 1960s, when German management consultant Christel Kammerer proposed “flexiwork” as a way for working women like herself—especially mothers and caregivers—to adjust the start and end times of their work schedules. In 1972, NASA engineer Jack Nilles coined the term “telecommuting.” Maybe it was the space research talking, but he saw working from afar as a way to reduce auto pollution and mitigate an emerging gas-shortage crisis. Today, the pandemic has pushed flexibility to center stage—and how could it not? In March 2020, only 1 in 67 paid U.S. job listings on LinkedIn offered remote work. Now that number is close to 1 in 6.

The promise is certainly alluring: By all means, write that report from your mother-in-law’s porch in the Florida Keys. If putting in 10 hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays adds an extra day to your weekend, the decision is yours.

At least that’s the glossy version. “Even before COVID, there was a gap in what flexibility meant for different people,” says Ellen Ernst Kossek, a management professor at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management who studies work-life boundaries, flexibility, and remote work. She co-authored a recent Harvard Business Review article that warns of “inflexible flexibility,” whereby employees have flexible options on paper—“unlimited vacation time,” for example, that no one actually uses—but little choice about schedules. Others may get lost in a muddle of scattershot policies because no one has set clear boundaries. “With the forced teleworking of the pandemic,” she says, “rules were not always well negotiated and, in many cases, flexibility ended up benefiting the employer and not trickling down.” Yes, you no longer have a commute, and that can be life-changing. Equally life-changing? Now, you are working constantly.

The key, Kossek says, is not imposing flexible measures from on high but rather paying attention to human needs and providing the resources to make flexibility possible. (Similarly, Microsoft is working to enable hybrid work by empowering managers like Hecht to experiment with what works best for their teams. The company’s hybrid work guide offers some key advice on how to make workplace experiments successful and inclusive.) And this applies to frontline workers as well as people sitting behind laptops. Flexibility can start with something as simple as hiring “floaters” as support for a retail staff that feels overwhelmed, or letting employees choose shorter shifts to manage kids who are suddenly back to remote learning. 

Whatever forms it takes, if companies are going to unlock flexibility for every employee, the approach requires being thoughtful and intentional. The 2021 Microsoft Work Trend Index found that women, along with Black and Latino workers, are more likely than white workers and men to say they prefer remote work. And when it comes to concerns around diversity, equity, and inclusion, says DEI consultant Ritu Bhasin, it’s especially important for leaders to be proactive and supportive when it comes to integrating people who prefer to work remotely. 

Making Flexible Flexibility Work

The trial run that Hecht and his team experimented with came out of compelling research on the hours that people devote to work. One study found that commuting during off hours in Seattle reduces travel by as much as 78 hours a year, allowing workers, in theory, to sleep longer or attend a kid’s after-school band concert. 

For his part, LinkedIn’s Dan Roth is noticing a kind of Cambrian explosion of flexibility experiments across the workforce. Whether it’s a company-wide week off around the Fourth of July or New Year’s (“Every employee is off so it really defeats the Sunday scaries,” Roth says), no-meeting Mondays, or sacrosanct rules around after-hours emails, such policies both reflect and build empathy and respect. “Especially when you let a team come up with their own rules around flexibility and remote structure, the message you’re sending is ‘we trust you,’ and that seems to work really well,” Roth says. Rather than worrying about what could go wrong and who might take advantage of flexible options, Roth suggests assuming best intentions. Solve for your top performers and you’ll get more top performers joining.

And if companies aren’t up for flexing, says Sonia Jaffe, a principal researcher and one of the leaders of Microsoft’s New Future of Work initiative, “I think you’ll see people voting with their feet and working wherever they find the choices they want.” The data backs this up: one large survey last year found that more than half of employees globally would quit their jobs if not provided with significant flexibility post-pandemic.

As technology evolves to help build flexibility into the flow of work, every organization will need to evolve its culture along with it, and getting there requires companies to rewire their thinking. That starts with listening and experimentation. Another way to look at it is more fundamental: Ultimately, it comes down to fostering a flexible mindset and trusting workers and teams to figure out together what works best for them. Because when it comes to driving the future of work forward, the power is theirs.

Full article from here