How to evaluate the call of over 60% of respondents to break the standard of first academic qualification in job search?

Recently, the first academic degree in job applications has once again sparked a heated discussion across the Internet The dilemma that job seekers face when their first academic degree is used as a criterion has resulted in many missed job opportunities A joint survey conducted by the China Youth Daily Social Survey Center and an online questionnaire platform revealed peoples opinions on this issue How should we break through the monopoly of emphasizing academic qualifications, especially the first academic degree?

Low qualifications not a deterrent: emphasize skills and experience.

It’s actually very difficult to break the “first academic degree discrimination” in the workplace.

Some interviewers or HR directly demonstrate their qualifications requirements in the recruitment information, clearly stating that they are looking for candidates with a bachelor’s degree or above. If the qualifications do not meet the requirements, they will ignore the resumes without even looking at them.

Some interviewers or HR do not immediately show “academic discrimination” upon seeing the resume, but rather focus on the issue of your qualifications. They will either question your learning ability or ask why you have not tried to retake the exam to get into a better school.

Previously, an applicant complained to me that in most of his interviews, there were no major errors or omissions in the Q&A, and he believed that his answers were good. However, at the end of the interview, the interviewer asked him, “I see that you have a master’s degree from a prestigious university, so which tier university did you attend for your bachelor’s degree?” The applicant said it was a second-tier university, and the interviewer sneered, “Oh, so you worked hard to go from a second-tier university to a prestigious one like 211.” In the end, he did not pass the interview, clearly indicating that the interviewer had a bias against his first academic degree.

Undeniably, if your first academic degree is too low, HR or interviewers will definitely have some doubts or questioning towards your low qualifications. They might even say, “You shouldn’t expect such a high salary with your qualifications.” Faced with the interviewer’s doubts about your qualifications, there is no need to voluntarily accept a salary reduction just because of lower qualifications. Instead, emphasize that you also have the corresponding abilities to match the job requirements:

“Hello, interviewer. Firstly, what you said is a fact - my academic degree is indeed not high. In my past academic journey, I did not realize the importance of qualifications and did not prioritize learning. It is these past mistakes that have shaped your perception of me. However, a lower degree represents the evaluation of academic performance, and the workplace should focus more on skills and experience that match the position. For example, the xxx ability/experience I possess, and the work achievements I have in my previous roles are all evidence that I am a perfect fit for this position. Considering my abilities, experience, and the average salary in the market, I have proposed this salary request in the hope that you can reconsider. If my experience or skills do not match your position and my qualifications still fail to satisfy you, then you would not have invited me for an interview.”

The Importance of “First Academic Degree”

Daydreaming in Broad Daylight.

The entry into higher education is divided into numerous levels: “985” universities, “211” universities, key undergraduate programs, second-tier universities, third-tier universities, vocational colleges, and more.

Nowadays, everyone strives according to these rules, successfully graduates, and then you tell them that the degree they obtained is of equal value.

Are the students in “985” universities going to faint in the restroom? Will those in “211” universities slap themselves three hundred times for self-reward? Do the students in third-tier universities need to celebrate with a bottle of champagne?

Why is it that just because you mention “fairness,” you have to negate the “ten years of hard study” for others? Isn’t this another form of unfairness?

If the “first degree” can be broken, does it mean that the employment restrictions brought about by “major” should also be abolished?

Anyway, for the majority of majors, as long as you give me a chance, I can handle it.

Then what about the restrictions on majors for civil service exams and professional certifications? Can they be canceled as well?

Since there are no longer any major restrictions, what is the difference between graduating from college, high school, middle school, or even primary school? Anyway, as long as you give me a chance, I can learn, and I have the possibility to handle it.

In that case, what’s the use of a degree? We might as well make all education compulsory and eliminate degrees altogether.

Personally, I believe that respecting the “first degree” is the greatest respect for those who have worked hard in their studies. While others are in the prime of their lives and want to have fun, they resolutely choose solitude and hard work. This requires great courage and determination, as well as significant sacrifices and sweat, all of which should not be overlooked.

We can even consider that most of the people who advocate for abolishing the “first degree” are a group of people who want to gain something for nothing. Where were you earlier?

Discrimination and job requirements

In simple terms, it’s feeling discriminated against.

It’s the same logic as some people suggesting to abolish the English test in the college entrance exam.

I know this kind of thing is unreasonable, and you also think it’s unreasonable.

But our opinions have no value when it comes to this rule, it’s the kind of rule that doesn’t even generate a bit of interest for others to take a second look.

Even if you shout until your voice is hoarse and shed tears of grievance, it’s still of no use.

The most important thing in life is not to be narrow-minded.

If some jobs require a first degree, then go find ones that don’t ask for it.

If certain provinces only consider the first degree, then go to other provinces.

If all provinces focus on the first degree, then try finding a job in another country.

If the whole world attaches great importance to the first degree, then at that point, you don’t even need to think about it, because we would all be in the same boat.

The Difficulty of Removing “First Degree” Requirement

This is actually a process of selecting the best candidates. Therefore, although it is understandable that everyone wants to break the “first degree” standard, it is difficult to implement in society.

After casually scanning the current recruitment platforms, I found that many companies' job requirements for education are bachelor’s degree or higher.

But I also know that even if some companies do not have specific education requirements, the level of education of job seekers is still an important factor that interviewers consider when reviewing resumes.

In fact, restricting the first degree is essentially because there are too many job seekers nowadays.

Employers want to quickly hire people, and they also hope to attract talented candidates. Therefore, before meeting the job seekers in person, in addition to considering their industry background and work experience, they can only impose restrictions on education.

“Education requirements” are also the only things that most companies dare to put in job postings.

After all, nowadays, any company that dares to impose restrictions on job seekers' gender, age, or geographical location in job postings will be exposed and criticized online in no time.

Some people may argue that education cannot prove everything, and it is ability that matters.

Indeed, I agree with this statement, but from the perspective of companies hiring, they may not have enough time to recruit candidates and then test their abilities.

In case the candidate is not a good fit, it may involve labor disputes when terminating the employment contract, which is unnecessary.

From another perspective, although education cannot represent a person’s ability, it can at least demonstrate the overall ability of the person during their period of study.

It is not guaranteed that reaching a certain level of education will guarantee an interview invitation or a job offer from a company.

Whether one can actually obtain a job depends on whether our past work experience matches the requirements of the employer, as well as the overall performance during the interview.

That’s why many companies now conduct interviews in multiple stages, with initial screenings by the HR department and then interviews with the department in charge.

For job seekers, they have to go through numerous tedious processes, starting from resume preparation, finding companies that meet their expectations, getting invited for interviews, and enduring at least two to three rounds of interviews. It is indeed a sorting process.

For companies with hiring needs, especially the HR departments responsible for recruitment, they repeat this process every week. If there are no restrictions on job seekers and everyone is accepted, one HR person may have to review hundreds of resumes in a day.

Therefore, imposing restrictions on resumes becomes a way to greatly reduce the burden on HR personnel in order to quickly find job seekers who meet the company’s requirements.

When a company posts job requirements, in addition to specifying the age and industry experience of job seekers, they also require a bachelor’s degree or higher.

This approach may indeed filter out some job seekers who meet the expectations, but society has never guaranteed job seekers anything.

Moreover, if someone is truly a highly skilled professional, they may have personal connections or contacts with recruiters who can help with recommendations.

Special talents naturally have access to special recruitment channels and can be treated on a case-by-case basis.

For example, our company also has education requirements, a bachelor’s degree or higher. I wanted to refer a friend but got stuck on this requirement.

Later, I found that all the members of a department had associate degrees. When I asked, I learned that they were all hired through an expedited process for the company’s innovation department.

That’s when I fully understood that many rules can be broken, depending on whether those in higher positions want to do so and how strong your abilities are.

The Difficulty of Obtaining a First Degree & Solutions 解决第一学历歧视的途径

The admission rate for the annual college entrance examination (Gaokao) for universities in the 985/211 list is only 5%!

So no matter how you calculate it, the majority of people are against relying solely on one’s first degree, because the ones who are affected by this requirement will always be the majority!

And it’s not that companies intentionally require a first degree when recruiting. It’s just that the supply of job seekers far exceeds the demand, and companies receive an overwhelming number of resumes!

If the first round of screening does not rely on the first degree and instead grants interview qualifications to everyone, all the HR personnel will have to work overtime for the first half of the year, and in the end, the probability of hiring candidates from universities in the 985/211 list is still very high. So, you tell me, why would HR go through all that trouble? Let’s just require a first degree in the next round of recruitment. After all, nobody wants to work overtime, right?

If the supply is far less than the demand and there are only 10 applicants for 50 positions, then why would HR insist on requiring a first degree? Just hire them directly! This is why many frontline factories want to hire highly educated talents but nobody comes!

You say that there is no talent among undergraduates without an elite background, but that is too absolute. However, it is too costly to screen out the talented candidates from this group. Only 1 out of 20 candidates is selected! You say that all undergraduates from universities in the 985/211 list are talented, but that is also too absolute. However, 10 out of 20 candidates are selected! If you were the HR, how would you choose?

Why does F1 have a qualifying race before the main race? It’s because the track is not wide enough. It’s not like a sprint race where so many cars can start from the same line. Overtaking is allowed during the race, but it’s not easy to do so. No one gives you a chance, and they all try to block your way!

The college entrance examination is like that qualifying race! The bridge is so narrow that some people cross it first, and some cross it later! If you want to stage a comeback or overtake on the bend, it’s not that easy!

At present, there are two ways to solve the discrimination against the first degree:

The first way is to take the civil service examination! As far as I know, whether you meet the professional requirements and whether you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree matters, but no one cares about the university you graduated from. Once you pass the exam, you can get a government job!

The second way is to pursue a Ph.D.! Some top companies may consider whether your undergraduate degree is from a 985/211 university, but I haven’t personally encountered it! The majority of companies only care about the ranking of your doctoral institution. If it’s a 985/211 university, you’re good to go!

The third way is to become a university faculty member! In academia, it doesn’t matter where you come from as long as your achievements are solid. If you have been the first author or co-author of a paper published in prestigious scientific journals like Science or Nature, they will eagerly hire you even if your first degree is from a vocational college or a university in the 985 list!

If none of these paths work for you, then lower your expectations and find a less desirable job in a remote city! For example, if you go to Hegang to find employment, the probability of them requiring a bachelor’s degree from a 985/211 university is quite low!

Rules are rigid, but people are adaptive! If you don’t want to accept your fate, fight for it. If you accept your fate, just lie down!

I am Zhengnan Gong, a Ph.D. who has spent many years studying. Your likes, bookmarks, and following are the greatest support for me! Tune in to my video livestream every Friday at 8:00 PM. Stay tuned!

The Difficulties of Breaking the Deadlock

为了破解僵局 Breaking the impasse is very difficult.

Because this matter cannot be solved by simply pressing a “magic button”. Behind the recruitment screening process is a real person making judgments, not a machine. It is very difficult for a real person to avoid “discriminatory” thoughts by relying on regulations.

Even if tomorrow the relevant department issues a law: prohibiting discrimination based on “first academic degree”, and imposing penalties and regulations for noncompliance, what difference would it make?

As we all know, the burden of proof lies with the one making the claims.

If you feel that you have encountered discrimination based on your “first academic degree”, and you want to present this newly issued law to file a complaint against the company, how are you going to prove it?

You say the company hired someone with a lower degree than you, and the company says that person demonstrated better abilities during the interview and your rejection had nothing to do with your degree. How would you respond?

It’s too simple for the employer to reject you for reasons other than your first academic degree without facing criticism. They can just find any other reason.

Be cautious, if the interviewer has discriminatory thoughts but never vocalizes them, he can easily find another reason and tell HR that your resume was eliminated. What can you do? How can you prove that he rejected you because of discrimination based on your first academic degree?

Moreover, interviews are like a “black box”; you don’t know how the person who eliminated you compares on paper. What if they are superior to you in multiple aspects? If you accuse the company of discrimination based on your “first academic degree”, it’s like helping the company create positive publicity.

The company can confidently stand up and open up both of your resumes, saying:

“This company never discriminates based on first academic degree. Look, both candidates have the same first academic degree and their second academic degrees are from similar institutions, but the person who was hired is indeed better. We understand the job seeker’s anxiety about not finding work, so we won’t countercharge him for false accusations and defamation. With the social responsibility of caring for recent graduates, we will bear the consequences of damaging our own reputation. We wish him success in finding a job.”

Doesn’t that make you even more angry?

So, this matter is very difficult in terms of practical implementation, and even if your appeal is successful, it is still very difficult to provide evidence.

To break this impasse, what needs to change is the consciousness of the interviewers, improving the understanding of companies, and eliminating stereotypes.

Just like the knowledge payment services provided by career bloggers on Zhihu, when we offer consultations, we sincerely share our experiences with you. However, some people have become accustomed to getting things for free, in their impression they have never paid for industry information when seeking advice. Some parents of students think, “Why should we pay for job searching? In the past, jobs were assigned, and we never had to pay for finding a job.” But these same parents are willing to pay for services such as college application assistance and study abroad programs because they believe that these things require payment.

This kind of mindset is difficult to change in the short term, and it is very difficult to change through rules and regulations.

Only when the generation that has experienced discrimination based on their first academic degree becomes interviewers themselves can we break the impasse.

The Quality of College Entrance Examination Is Higher Than Postgraduate Entrance Examination

On the surface, in terms of job hunting and recruitment, there is a surplus of supply compared to demand. The supply and demand relationship determines market position.

In a buyer’s market cycle, employers prioritize “academic qualifications”. But what can you do?

There are plenty of other people if you don’t come.

But fundamentally, the issue lies in the fact that the college entrance examination determines one’s lifelong fate. People not only accept the college entrance examination but also accept the importance of academic qualifications.

It’s better than talking about educational discrimination.

The purpose of the college entrance examination is to divide people into different levels. As long as there are divisions, there will be “discrimination”. The act of division itself is “discrimination”.

If every level received the same treatment, then what’s the point of division?

Similarly, the graduate entrance examination also categorizes people and leads to “discrimination”.

The current controversy is only about those who performed well on the graduate entrance examination demanding to be recognized based on it, while most employers still value the college entrance examination.

In terms of discrimination, whether it is based on the graduate entrance examination or the college entrance examination, it is essentially the same. Both are forms of discrimination, and no one can claim the moral high ground.

People who have attended vocational schools, secondary vocational schools, or dropped out of high school have not even voiced their opinions, while undergraduate and graduate students are taking advantage of the situation.

In the end, with the limited social resources available, it is only through selection that people can be divided into different levels for resource allocation.

Otherwise, would you let everyone study at Tsinghua University and Peking University?

This is not a matter of whether you want to or not, but rather a matter of whether it is possible or not.

Therefore, it’s meaningless to discuss whether there is discrimination or not.

The only thing left to discuss is whether you value the college entrance examination or the graduate entrance examination, and which mechanism produces higher-quality candidates.

In this regard, the college entrance examination is obviously superior to the graduate entrance examination, right?

The college entrance examination is a selection process that almost all Chinese people participate in, with a base of tens of millions of people.

And the graduate entrance examination?

Starting from 2018, as the economy declined, the number of graduate entrance examination candidates increased to 2 million, exceeding 4 million in 2023, which is still less than half of the college entrance examination.

The college entrance examination typically only needs to be taken once, with few re-sits.

Taking the graduate entrance examination for several years is not uncommon, so the base for comparison is smaller.

Although the base for the graduate entrance examination is smaller, the number of candidates is not.

The more prestigious the university, the more graduate students it admits, while some smaller schools do not even have graduate programs.

Therefore, compared to the college entrance examination, is it easier to enter prestigious universities via the graduate entrance examination?

Furthermore, the college entrance examination is a comprehensive assessment of 12 years of study from elementary school to high school. Everyone goes all out during this period.

What about the graduate entrance examination?

Can it be considered an assessment of four years of university education?

For the vast majority, they may only prepare for it during their final year or even less.

And unlike the college entrance examination, it is not an essential requirement. Whether one passes or fails doesn’t have a decisive impact on their fate.

So, who has a higher-quality selection process?

In terms of the quantity of candidates, quality of candidates, selection ratio, and selection content, the graduate entrance examination is inferior to the college entrance examination, even differing by orders of magnitude.

Even in terms of selection order, the graduate entrance examination may come after the civil service examination and job hunting, and there’s also the possibility of studying abroad.

So, tell me, which standard would you choose?

At least for my team’s recruitment, a bachelor’s degree from a prestigious university is a must.

As for graduate students, they are simply icing on the cake.

Among the two team members who are not from prestigious universities, one is a retired basketball player, and the other has achieved top three rankings in provincial amateur badminton tournaments.

In my opinion, obtaining a mediocre graduate degree is truly not as valuable as pursuing a hobby.

There may be plenty of average master’s degree holders, but the truly talented ones have never disappointed me.

Anyway, you won’t read this even if I bookmark it, so give it a like just to show your support…

Insufficient skills, limited job opportunities due to education.

Among these 60% of people, at least 99% of them specifically mention their first academic degree because they feel inadequate compared to others.

It is true that they do have the capability, but due to their low first academic degree, they are unable to find better job opportunities no matter what they do. This situation does not occur even in 1% of cases.

Reverse discrimination against undergraduate 985 graduates

Have you heard of reverse “first degree” discrimination?

In certain areas, or units with less prestige or relatively poor reputation, they refuse to accept students from top-tier universities (such as those in the 985 or 211 project), denying them interview opportunities or job offers.

Their reasoning is quite simple. They know that when these top-tier university students apply to their units, it is purely as a backup plan or to enhance their interview experience. They understand that for them, there is almost no possibility of signing a contract with their company. So, they would rather directly reject providing interview opportunities.

Is this fair?

As a result, a particularly ridiculous situation has arisen:

It has become even harder for 985 and 211 university students to find jobs.

Why is that?

Because good companies not only scrutinize academic degrees, but also research direction, grades, and awards. This makes it difficult for students in less popular majors to even secure an interview.

And when these students settle for units with relatively less favorable reputations, these units consider them as looking for a backup plan and also deny them the opportunity to interview.

They can’t enter good companies, nor can they enter bad companies. It’s become a complete joke.

My younger schoolmate, who is in a lower grade, encountered similar reverse discrimination.

He is from Yanyang, Xi’an, like me. He studied for his bachelor’s degree at Huadong University of Science and Technology and his master’s degree at Xi’an University of Technology, majoring in materials.

During the 2023 autumn recruitment season, he applied to Xifei, a company in Yanyang. According to his qualifications and being a local of Yanyang, he should have had no problem getting an interview at Xifei. However, unexpectedly, Xifei did not even offer him an interview opportunity.

As for me, in my job search at the same level, even though I am also from Yanyang, I did not receive any interview opportunities. Later, when I chatted with my roommate who also applied to Xifei, I learned that most of the people who were finally hired were regular undergraduate students from ordinary 985 universities.

All the major research institutes in Xi’an have already closed their doors to non-Xidian-level 211 undergraduate students. Therefore, these non-985 graduate students can only choose units with relatively poorer geographical locations, such as Xifei, if they want to enter state-owned enterprises.

And for 985 graduate students with a 985 undergraduate degree, Xifei is not their first choice.

In the end, when the environment is unfavorable, some 985 graduate students with a bachelor’s degree are experiencing reverse discrimination.