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  • Writer's pictureLindi Engelbrecht

Skills-based hiring is the future

Hire Based on Skills, Not Pedigree

Emerging talent strategies are focusing on adaptability and growth, with skills-based hiring increasing in popularity.

If the last year has taught us anything—and it has taught us a lot—it’s that nothing is a given and flexibility is crucial. That’s why there’s a growing trend of skills-based hiring, where employers want candidates who have specific skills that meet the demands of the job, but with a particular emphasis on teachability.

This is going to sound hard to believe, but just about everyone actually agrees on something:

1) your skills matter more than the job titles you’ve held in the past, and 2) since skills are so important, we need more opportunities for learning them. Just look at these numbers:

  • 31% of hiring managers say skills-based hiring is their top priority this year.

  • 85% will focus less on candidates’ prior titles and more on their skills and experience.

  • Just two years ago, only 62% of hiring managers had ever hired someone who didn’t have all the skills required by the job, planning to provide training. But fast-forward to today, and...

  • A whopping 88% of hiring managers hire candidates who demonstrate strong “soft skills,” then train them on job-specific abilities.

  • 91% of workers say it is important to learn new skills that could advance their career.

So, what does this mean?

COVID-19 rocked industries and fractured neat, linear career tracks into zigzags, with people using their transferable skills to switch jobs or even fields. Where you used to work doesn’t matter as much as what you can do.

Hiring managers want competent professionals who are ready to level up, and workers want opportunities for professional development

A skills-based workforce is one that is adept at reskilling or retraining. Employees understand that a single role, department, company, and entire marketplace can change suddenly and that they need to be able to adapt to changes.

The key to skills-based hiring is that rather than “seeing your workforce as a static group of people assigned to specific roles, it’s important to view it as a collective mix of skills, perspective, experiences, and technologies that work together to drive your business”. A focus on skills doesn’t mean that education and experience become irrelevant, but simply that they aren’t factors that weed out potentially great candidates!

Having a degree is not a guarantee of competency. For example, in a competition for a bookkeeping role, a candidate with a business degree may not have the same level of understanding of Quickbooks as someone who taught themselves how to use the bookkeeping application through online tutorials. Candidates who are skilled and self-taught will likely show a high level of adaptability and have a growth mindset—both desirable traits to have and to hire.

In March, DIGGER launched a skills-based hiring initiative aiming to connect employers and job seekers by identifying the core skills for open roles and then matching qualified candidates to those roles. DIGGER combines an ever-growing Skills Ontology with talent experience to match nontraditional candidates with job interviews. More than a dozen companies are already participating in the marketplace.

If we want to shape the workforce of the future, we need to hire for skills of the future.

What can hiring managers do today to shift their focus to skills-based hiring?

Take small steps

Startups never launch their products without hypothesis testing with real users. You don’t need to redefine your whole recruitment and hiring process either. Start with vacancies with the highest time-to-hire and turnover rates. Thus, you can find the root cause (like skills gap) and test a new hiring approach.

Start by rethinking your company’s job descriptions and job posts

Instead of starting off your job description by listing all the job requirements, think about what skills are required to do the job. Put the focus on the responsibilities the person will have in the role and what skills they will have to use in their daily tasks.

When writing your job description, think about what results you expect the person to deliver in this role.

Perform a job analysis to understand the skills a role requires

Hiring managers should work closely with the team or manager they are hiring for to really understand what skills are important for the role and how to assess those skills. This means identifying all the skills required for the role: technical skills, foundational skills and human skills.

By going through this process, talent teams are better positioned to conduct a skills assessment that will help you find the best talent

Skills-based hiring is the future of hiring and, if embraced, will help shape the workforce of tomorrow. Despite the studies and research already conducted, this is still a new way of hiring and will require a lot of learning and cross departmental collaboration.

However, your hiring managers and talent teams will quickly see results from skills-based hiring and its ability to attract top talent to your organisation.


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