The proliferation of boot camps for coding and other in-demand skills has prompted people of all backgrounds to make a career jump — and that includes recruiters.
Max Nash — now a graduating student of General Assembly’s coding boot camp program — was a recruiter for the software engineering industry before he decided to join the industry himself.
Recruiters can often be sorted into three buckets, Nash told HR Dive: people who sell, people who network and people who learn about their subject matter. He leaned into that third bucket, and when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he found further opportunity to study coding and computer science.
When he lost time for his study once recruiting picked back up, he made the decision to join a coding boot camp. And as a former recruiter, he has seen both sides of some emerging questions: Is the tech industry ready for nontraditional hires? And are boot camp grads an answer to a hiring scramble in a talent-starved industry like tech?
Opinions are mixed, Nash said. “There’s kind of the old club, comp sci men from 20 years ago who have full faith in a comp sci or university degree,” he told HR Dive. He had friends who told him they’d been questioned about the legitimacy of their skills precisely because they didn’t study at a university.
Various surveys and reports signal similar trepidation around ending degree-based hiring. While organizations that have made the jump to skills-based hiring tend to outperform their peers who haven’t done so, many organizations are struggling to make the changes needed to make it work, according to a Deloitte report published in September.
And many employers still overlook nontraditional backgrounds — including nonuniversity education — during recruitment despite ongoing pressure not to, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs noted in a June event. Many employers still require degrees for entry-level jobs, partly because of concerns over the value of skill credentials.
While questions may remain about the quality of various boot camp programs on the market, Nash said some, like General Assembly, teach “a lot of code in a short amount of time,” particularly compared to a university education, which tends to spread out theory education — and less practical coding, Nash said — on a longer timescale.
Nash said his training has imbued him with confidence in his coding abilities, at least compared to a new college grad.
So what can recruiters do to broaden their talent pools to people of more varied backgrounds? Foster an openness to the conversation within companies, Nash said.
“Recruiters need to do this but maybe they aren’t because their managers are pushing these candidates back,” he said. Some of it remains a systemic problem with the application process, too, he added. “People will see no degree and just straight dismiss you.”
Many boot camp grads are people who have made a career change, like Nash, and they are looking for engagement from recruiters, he said. They could be a solid source of talent — especially in today’s labor market.