A new survey by BestColleges, which provides students with "direct connections to schools and programs that suit their education goals," has found that 63% of business leaders who actively recruit new employees have either slowed or altogether halted those processes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Closer to 7 in 10 employers who recruit from online degree programs say their hiring processes have decelerated, but Melissa Venable, BestColleges online education advisor, said nearly three-quarters said the quality of online education has improved even in the few months college students switched to virtual learning to finish the Spring 2020 semester.

"There's already a good feeling that online education can help current employees to upskill, and to maintain their skills," Venable said, adding that more than 70% of the employers they surveyed already had established relationships with online college programs.

That supports further research Venable cited, saying that half of all recruiters now look to online programs for their candidates, and in the pandemic, a quarter of recruiters are shifting their focus to specific, targeted majors.

"While we don't know specifically what those majors are, we do know that those leaders (who were surveyed) came from business-related industries: finance, accounting, engineering, and IT," Venable said. "There's already about half that are looking particularly for those graduates when they come out of school."

At the other end of the spectrum, the survey revealed that 18% of respondents haven't changed their hiring approach at all since the pandemic began.

"I think we still have a small percentage there that are moving forward as they have, without any changes, but certainly that majority is slowing and halting what they're doing right now," Venable said.

And while getting any kind of college degree is still important in many fields of employment, Venable cautioned that that's not the case for all fields, that college really is not for everybody, and that high school graduates should weigh the return on investment for their intended career path in determining whether to pursue further education.

BestColleges conducted its research in conjunction with YouGov PLC, sampling more than 950 senior decision-makers over the final weekend of May 2020.

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