Having a four-year college degree is generally regarded as a necessity to score a job in tech. But as the number of tech jobs has climbed, far outpacing the number of applicants, companies like IBM have turned to talent with non-traditional educational backgrounds.
With this drastic shortage of tech workers, the company is now focusing on skills-based hiring rather than credentials to fill these roles.
IBM's hiring practices are part of a larger trend in the industry. Tech companies like Intel and GitHub have also been seeking talent from other educational avenues, such as coding programs and high school partnerships, according to Fast Money.
In a USA Today column, the company's CEO Ginni Rometty explains that not all tech jobs require a college degree. As industries transform, she says, "jobs are being created that demand new skills – which in turn requires new approaches to education, training and recruiting."
These "new collar jobs," says Rometty, are becoming harder to fill. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 500,000 open jobs in tech- related sectors, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. A recent study by Code.org reports that as many as 1 million programming jobs will be unfilled by 2020.
To counter this, IBM's CEO says that the company intends to hire 6,000 employees by the end of this year, many of whom will have unconventional backgrounds.
"About 15 percent of the people we hire in the U.S. don't have four-year degrees," IBM's vice president of talent Joanna Daly tells CNBC Make It. "There's an opportunity to broaden the candidates to fill the skills gap."
In June, the company announced that it would be partnering with community colleges across the U.S. to better prepare more Americans for "new collar career opportunities."
For those who don't have a bachelor's degree, Daly says she likes to see hands-on experience and that you've enrolled in vocational classes that pertain to the industry you're applying to.
"I like candidates who have taken the initiative to learn these skills," she says. For example, she advises that you take a coding boot camp if you want to work online.
"Know about the area that you're applying for," says the HR exec, "and have a point of view about what we're doing."