On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup talks to Brittany from Credly about how hiring individuals with career gaps is a culture and skills add.

Some Conversation Highlights:

Tune in for the full conversation.

Listening time: 23 minutes

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Brittany Storie
Director, HR Business Partner Credly Follow

Speaker 1 (00:00):

This is RecruitingDaily’s recruiting live podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one over-complicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You are now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup (00:34):

Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you’re listening to RecruitingDaily podcast. Today, we have Brittany on from Credly. And our topic today is hiring individuals with career gaps is a culture and skills ad. And so obviously, we’ve historically looked at that as some perceptive negative. And we’re going to destroy that today. And Brittany’s going to destroy that for us. Brittany, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and Credly?

Brittany Storie (01:06):

Yes. Thank you so much, Tim. I’m very excited for this conversation. My name is Brittany Storie. I’m the vice President of people operations at Credly. And Credly’s focused on helping people achieve their full potential on the basis of what they know and they can do. The way that we do that is by making sure that organizations have the verified real-time data on the skills and the abilities of the individuals within their team when they’re making human capital decisions.

William Tincup (01:34):

I love it. And I’ve been following you forever, so I love your company. Let’s talk about the history of gaps. It wasn’t that long ago where gaps were looked at, frowned upon. That something was wrong, if you had a year or two or three. And for women, I think it was disproportionate in terms of maternity and staying home and being with kids, et cetera. And so, gaps were negative. I think we can all agree gaps, negative. Okay. Historically. What changed?

Brittany Storie (02:16):

It’s a great question. Well, I’ll start by sharing that I am someone who has a couple of career gaps on my resume. And in fact, I have been looked over by many organizations when applying for roles that I know I’m qualified to do very well in based on my skills and abilities, because of things like not completing a college degree program and having a couple of career gaps on my resume.


When I’m thinking about my own career trajectory and also what we have experienced as a country over the past 20 years, many people lost their jobs in the beginning of 2008. I was one of those individuals. And that’s actually how I transitioned into a career in human resources. I leveraged my transferrable skills and abilities after I experienced a layoff from financial services at the start of the Great Recession.


And throughout my career, I’ve approached every role that I’ve been part of with a consultative approach and a human-focused operating model, while knowing that there are several setbacks that each of us have either experienced or have had the fortune of not experience, that should not be the reason why we’re not granted opportunities to show off our skills.


And we’ll get into a little bit more about all of that. But to answer your question about where we started to see a shift in the way that employers are approaching these things, is that there have been so many people, whether it was the Great Recession or responsibilities to care for children, caring for parents, caring for their own personal needs. Then transitioning into everything we’ve experienced over the past couple of years with the COVID-19 pandemic.


All of us now are living with the very real reality that life is not perfect. There’s unexpected twists and turns. And I think that hopefully, if there’s one piece of silver lining that comes out of the pandemic, it’s that we’re recognizing that unforeseeable situations someone may have experienced or setbacks should not limit the opportunities that they have to continue to grow.

William Tincup (04:39):

100% agree. And I think one of the things, again, it could be from some of the social movements that have happened, MeToo, love is love, Black Lives Matter, George Floyd dying, pandemic, a bunch of this stuff all culminating into a better consciousness or awareness of flexibility and fairness. We compartmentalize those things historically, personal and professional.


And I think it bled, obviously, with the pandemic, there was no personal and professional. It’s just all together. Which is, I actually think it’s great. I love it when my kids come in on calls. I used to be, I wasn’t always that way. If my kids interrupted a webinar or a call, I was mad. And now I’m like, “Hey, what’s going on? Yeah, how are you doing?” And I’m just engaging with them like normal, which is I think how it should be.


But it is interesting that the space has been created for fairness and flexibility, which wasn’t there pre-’08, wasn’t there, just wasn’t. And I really hate that you were looked over for something because there’s nothing more frustrating than to know that you could do the job. And you didn’t even get a chance to interview for the job because of this, well, I mean, just unfortunately the timing and the intellect wasn’t there.


As a society, we weren’t involved yet, but it breaks my heart that that happened. But I would assume that that’s happened to all of us because of these things. Let’s talk, now that we done the history lesson, let’s go into this culture and skills ad, which is the most fascinating part of this call.

Brittany Storie (06:42):

Absolutely, absolutely. I think what I encourage other HR professionals to keep at the forefront of their mind when making human capital decisions is to focus on skills-based hiring. When reviewing candidates who have had gaps on their resume or have not had a traditional career path, I always challenge those hiring managers to focus first and foremost on what are the skills and competencies that we’re hiring for within the position?


How are you evaluating talent when it’s as part of a resume review process or when structuring the interview questions that you may apply in the recruitment process as well? Are you focusing on the right things? I actually find that when you proactively work with hiring teams and you identify clear parameters of what is important to focus on within the role, some of these items, like if someone had a two-year gap on their resume, or if they worked in a different industry. Any fears or misconceptions that we may have previously put into interview processes become stripped away when you’re focusing on primarily the skills that are required for the role and what you’re looking for in the ideal candidate that’s going to be successful within that role.

William Tincup (08:16):

You know what’s interesting, even with your own story? You had built up these skills in an industry, et cetera, and those skills also had, they were transferrable. As you mentioned, they were transferrable, they’re tangential. But if we’ve based hiring off of experience and titles, I think that’s one of the things, especially in HR and in TA that historically, we’ve looked at a career path of someone starts as a coordinator, manager, director, exec. They move through this process. And that isn’t true of the future.


Someone like yourself, can work in operations, but have a human-centric mindset. And have all of these other innate skills, soft skills that would make you a fantastic people operations person or people leader. But if they were just looking at your titles on LinkedIn or your resume or whatever, they’d never even consider you.

Brittany Storie (09:25):

You bring up such a fascinating point as well in that, how often in the world of talent acquisition have you heard a manager say, “Well, this person is at this level and this is a step back for them. Why would they even be interested in this position?” I mean, I know that you’ve heard that reaction from hiring managers more than once or twice.


And what I always encourage hiring managers to focus on is don’t lead with misconceptions about the individual. If they have the skills and experience to do the job, entertain the conversation and dig in a little bit deeper. We all have things that happen in our life that may reframe the way that we’re thinking about our careers.


For some individuals, you may have worked in more senior positions for several years and life has shifted. Perhaps you need to take a step back or want to take a step back and focus on other areas of your life that may be requiring a bit more attention. And you may have what is then perceived as a career set back. But actually, your life is evolving. And what you’re looking for in your career and in your professional opportunities is allowed to evolve with that as well.

William Tincup (10:39):

How do we discover, how do we create the awareness with our own team to not just look at titles or even… I mean, what’s funny is every financial company and every ad that you ever hear from a financial company as past performance is not predictive of future performance. That’s a caveat pretty much on every ad that you’ll ever see that deals with finance.


It’s true in talent too. Just because you were successful at something that you did before, doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be successful in the future at that exact same thing. But building on that, rewiring our teams to then think, Okay. Now not just think about that as traditional career paths, but people that have non-traditional career paths, even gaps. And looking at do they have what we want them to and can we build upon it if they don’t have it, do they have some of the raw material and the desire to want to build those skills?

Brittany Storie (11:48):

Absolutely. Part of what I love about working at Credly is that we are having these conversations constantly, not only within our team at Credly, but out in the world with other industry leaders like yourself to identify what are the thorniest issues that we need to challenge. How can we not only take what we know to be the right way to verify skills and to honor achievements? But how do we help employers make more informed human capital management decisions?


One of the ways that we’re doing that is at Credly, we have a core issuing platform. If you have a skill or a capability that is recognizable, we work with issuing organizations to identify what the criteria is and to assign a digital credential to that. But we actually are taking it a couple steps further. We’ve just launched a new product called Talent Match, which will allow hiring managers, talent acquisition specialists, in-house HR teams identify where there are qualified individuals based on those skills who may be a match for your company.


We’re changing the way that talent acquisition is thought about. We’re looking based on those skills. We’re looking for the individuals on our platform who have made an achievement. And we’re contacting them and working with them to see if they may have the desire to be considered for an opportunity using this product, which I think is a long overdue need in the talent acquisition space.

William Tincup (13:33):

Oh, 100%. 100%. Do you think employees or candidates need to explain gaps?

Brittany Storie (13:41):

That’s a really interesting topic. And I’m of the mindset that you shouldn’t need to. And the reason for that is there are people who are going to self-volunteer why they may have a gap. But as an organization, you open up the individual and yourself to influence your decision with bias when you gather more information.

William Tincup (14:09):

Yeah, of course.

Brittany Storie (14:10):

Absolutely. For example, you may have someone who was navigating a difficult personal health situation. That unfortunately, we also know that, while there are plenty of managers who are wonderfully accepting and approach those situations with empathy and with care and concern, there’s also the adverse action that can happen in a variety of different situations.


My approach is that I do try to let to lead with the experiences that I’ve had. I do my best to share proactively with individuals where I’ve experienced setbacks, how I’ve navigated them. And have encouraged other talent acquisition professionals to use my experiences and know what I have been able to accomplish and what my skills and capabilities are as a model for why we should be thinking about these situations in different ways.


And I do that because I know that not everyone has a voice. And not everyone needs to raise their voice and share why they’ve had setbacks, why they’ve had gaps. But in creating that space, where we’re challenging the way that people are thinking about career gaps and setbacks within their own professional lives, I’m hoping that I can continue to open that door for us to challenge the way that we’ve thought about those situations previously.

William Tincup (15:44):

I love that. I love that. And if for no other reason than it expands the talent pool. This is in your best interest as a talent acquisition professional, HR professional is to just think differently about this. While you might have an issue with a person that didn’t finish a degree or some type of bias against people that didn’t finish a degree, or people that took a couple years off and went to Europe, whatever the bid was, it doesn’t really matter. Whatever those biases are, you should get over those biases because it’s in your best interest.

Brittany Storie (16:18):

Absolutely. And the thing that’s so amusing to me in all of this is, at Credly, I work with so many people who have had a career pivot or a transition. I love hearing stories about what candidates have learned during the time that they took some time off, whether it was to go to Europe, like you mentioned, or to explore another field.


And often, what I’ve found is that some of our best team members are what most qualified and motivated and bright and dynamic team members have had challenges. And it’s made them excellent at what they do now because they have a more holistic view of the way that they look at the world and the way they look at the products that we’re developing to provide equity within human capital management decisions.

William Tincup (17:11):

Brittany, I’ll go out on a limb. I’m not sure I trust anyone that’s not had challenges.

Brittany Storie (17:18):

I agree.

William Tincup (17:18):

I’m going to take a long shot here. I just don’t know if I can trust that individual, that either can’t express it or just has just never had challenges. Just if that’s either of those are true, I’m not sure that I could trust that.


I was recently, I think it was last week, I was talking to somebody about skills and the fluidity of skills. And the way that our mindsets have thought about skills as being finite. And it’s almost like you look at a glass. And the glass, it’s finite. But the way that we should be looking at skills is that they’re fluid. People are adding micro skills, is probably not the right way of thinking about it. But they’re adding skills every day. Every day they’re getting better. Every day they’re doing something to make themselves better.


How do we capture that? How do they capture that? And how do we talk about skills in a different way, maybe not as rigid as we’ve we have in the past?

Brittany Storie (18:21):

That’s a fascinating question. We can do it in a couple different ways. I’m a big believer that every company should put their people practices at the front of everything that they’re building. Humans are our most valuable asset in any organization. And so, in the same way that you’re thinking about marketing strategy and sales strategy and the logistics in different areas of the business, all of the people planning has to be interwoven to align with where the company is going and its vision and its values.


I’m also a big believer that, while individuals are in the driver’s seat of where their career arc takes them, employers play a strong role in making sure that their workers, their workforce has the ability to upskill, re-skill, in some cases unskill, and continue to advance the mission of the organization.


You can do that in a couple of different ways. I’m a big fan of making sure that professional development stipends are available to all. That removes equity challenges as well. If you leave it to the individual to advocate for themselves, it’s where you continue to see some disparity, which we’re trying to avoid.


But I also, on my own team, I focus very much on making sure that learning and upskilling and reskilling is part of the job itself. And I identify not only where’s the department going, where’s the company going, and where does the individual who’s on my team want to go? How do those things align? And are we working on the skills right now that can help them flourish in their current role, but take them to where they want to go in the future?


It takes effort. It’s not always intuitive for every organization, but it’s important. And I think that’s the best way that we can reengage our workforce at this time.

William Tincup (20:21):

What’s lovely about that is it’s communicated. You communicate that upskilling is a part of the job, and so you create space for that. And obviously, you have a wonderful platform, so that helps. But you basically say, “It’s okay.” It’s actually a part of their job. It’s a part of whatever, if you’re in sourcing, it’s a part of the job for you to get better.


A, you got to want to get better. That’s a you thing. But B, it’s okay if you take off an hour and you’re training and you’re learning something because that actually will help you, which will help us. And everybody wins. Which again, I think training historically, and we’re a long way away from this, but was, I can remember a time when CLOs and CFOs in particular would look at training as, “Well, what if we train them and they leave?” And the retort was, “Well, what if we don’t train them and they stay?”


Well, yeah, but for years, there was a block because it’s like, “Well, if we invest in them and they’re to leave, we’re just, well, it’s money lost.” It’s like, yeah, we need to stop looking at it that way. Anyhow, thank God we’re past that.

Brittany Storie (21:41):

Absolutely. I actually, I’d like to just throw in maybe a controversial opinion to respond to that, if that’s all right.

William Tincup (21:48):

Sure, 100%.

Brittany Storie (21:52):

During every employee orientation process that I have with new hires at Credly, I make sure to point out the fact that I know that these new team members will not be part of our company forever. And I let them know that our goal is to make sure that they are continuing to grow within their career in a way that’s meaningful to them.


And so, there’s a very strong reality that anyone who’s onboarded right now at Credly’s probably not going to retire from Credly 20, 30 years from now. We hope that they will continue to grow. But ideally, when an employee leaves an organization, if you’ve provided the tools, the resources, and the foundation for them to continue to grow in their careers and the communication, when they do leave, it’s going to be bittersweet, of course. But it’s going to be with an appreciation for what they’ve been able to gain during the time that they’ve been with you. And ultimately, I think that’s a sign of a successful employee life cycle for any organization.

William Tincup (22:58):

100 % agree. It’s a sign of a good manager as well that they’re happy that the person is progressing, not sad or resentful that they’re leaving. You take a part of your success is enabling other people’s success. I think that’s actually a, you’re just good manager, bad manager stuff. It’s just simple. You’re either good or bad.


And good managers actually, when people move on, either internally or externally, they move on to something that they love and that they’re great at. And you helped in some small way. I think the good managers, they love those stories. They look back on the people. I, years ago, at an ad agency and a bunch of interns, I can look at a bunch of interns that are now doing great work. And I had a little bitty tiny part to do with that and I love it.


Anyhow, last question. And it was about culture, because one of this is gaps as it relates to culture and skills add we’ve… I think the thing that I see in terms of where they add in culture is about differences. And differences being a good thing, not differences being a bad thing. But I want to get your take on why that’s an add.

Brittany Storie (24:24):

Oh, absolutely. I love this topic. I would like everyone to strike cultural fit from their…

William Tincup (24:33):

The lexicon?

Brittany Storie (24:34):

From their lexicon. Absolutely. When I’m thinking about adding to any organization and how to evolve a team, I like to reframe it from the perspective of a cultural enhancement or a cultural addition. What does that mean when we’re thinking about this whole topic as well?


Well, I sometimes use the example when thinking about building out my own team. If everyone thought about things exactly the way that they did, that probably wouldn’t be a very well functioning HR team. We need people who can provide different experiences, different backgrounds, are looking at the employee lifecycle experience with a different worldview than the one that I have.


If we primarily are hiring for people exactly like us with the same background and experience, then you’re actually not building a team or a product that meets the needs of the target population that you’re working with. And for Credly, our goal is to work with all individuals and not just the individuals who are like me, look like me, have the same experiences as me.


And I think that that’s something that all teams can embrace. When you’re thinking about adding additional team members to your growing organization, you should be looking for people who can perform a role in a way that you can’t, who can provide value in ways that existing team members can’t as well.


And I always say that the sign of a success for any manager is when they get to the point where they’ve hired, trained, and deployed team members to add so much value that the person in senior leadership is no longer needed within that role. And then at that point, the organization has evolved and you’re continuing to help individuals evolve along with your offering.

William Tincup (26:35):

Brittany drops mic and walks off stage. Thank you so much for your time and your wisdom.

Brittany Storie (26:42):

Thank you, William.

William Tincup (26:43):

Absolutely. And thanks, everyone, for listening to the RecruitingDaily podcast. Until next time.

Speaker 1 (26:49):

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The RecruitingDaily Podcast

William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


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