Employers give thumbs down to academic qualifications


Only a tiny proportion of European employers have any faith in the trustworthiness of academic qualifications, CVs and job application forms in determining on-the-job performance, while many also harbour doubts about the quality of managerial candidates.

A study of 375 major European employers by HR consultancy Cubiks found that fewer than one in 10 (eight per cent) believe that academic qualifications are always a reliable indicator of how a candidate will perform in a role.

The survey also revealed that lies and exaggerations have become common features of application forms and CVs with almost nine out of organisations encountering both of these on a regular basis.

To compound the difficulties for employers, it appears that dishonest or inappropriate candidates are not being identified and rejected early on in the recruitment process.

Six out of 10 employers said that they have had to withdraw job offers at the very last minute following the receipt of a poor personal reference.

The most common reasons for businesses rejecting candidates are because they lack the core abilities needed to do the job or because of a poor personality fit.

At managerial level, employers said that the competencies they find candidates most commonly lack are the ability to manage and lead others and the ability to think strategically.

These competencies were also identified as the most difficult to assess, suggesting that employers do not have the knowledge and instruments required to focus in on these areas during selection and development assessments.

Innovation and creativity was seen as the competency that was most difficult to develop in people and therefore a very precious commodity.

Barry Spence, Chief Executive Officer of Cubiks, said that the findings highlighted the fact that employers cannot rely on conventional selection methods to screen out unsuitable candidates.

"Academic qualifications are useful in demonstrating that a person has achieved a high level of knowledge in a particular subject and developed a range of skills, such as analysing or written communication, that can be useful in working environments," he said.

"However, they should never be used as the sole means of judging whether a candidate has what it takes to succeed in an organisation and any business that relies on qualifications in isolation is just taking a short cut.

"Equally, employers who do not go further than reviewing an application form or CV could find themselves making an expensive mistake as they will be selecting an applicant on the basis of trust only."

But the survey also found that organisations are shooting themselves in the foot by not moving quickly enough to snare good candidates when they come along.

Half said that they had lost candidates because individuals were unwilling to invest time in the company's recruitment process.

Moreover, many are also damaging their reputations by not providing unsuccessful candidates with feedback.

"When people invest time in applying to an organisation, they feel they deserve something in return for their efforts, particularly if they are unsuccessful," Barry Spence said.

"The figures show that employers who are unable to provide meaningful feedback to candidates risk damaging their employer brand."