Modern jobs are dynamic. A person with all the proper credentials today may find that their role has significantly changed five years later. Take marketing as an example. A person who studied marketing in the early 2000s would have learned fundamental skills that still apply today but lack some application skills. Many of the tools and avenues companies use to market today didn’t even exist at the turn of the millennium. As a result, recruiters increasingly hire for skills over degrees as certifications.

The shift towards skills-based hiring is transforming the recruitment landscape, offering a more accurate and inclusive approach to evaluating candidates. This article examines the benefits and practical application of skills-based hiring in your organization.

What is Skills-Based Hiring?

Skills-based hiring represents a paradigm shift, placing a greater emphasis on the specific skills and competencies that candidates bring to the table than their qualifications. This approach ensures a match between candidates and day-to-day job requirements. It also provides job seekers who don’t have many degrees with equal opportunities to showcase their skills.

You may think this is simple to execute – that it’s merely a case of looking at the skills a candidate lists on their resume instead of their education. Think again. Resumes may not fully reflect a candidate’s practical skills and competencies, leading to potential mismatches between job requirements and candidate capabilities.

Critical Components of Skills-Based Hiring

Identifying relevant skills and effective means to assess them are crucial components of skills-based hiring.

To start, employers must understand the skills essential for a particular role. Once that’s established, you’ll need to identify methods to evaluate these skills during the recruitment process. Tech provides answers in the form of candidate assessment software.

3 Benefits of Skills-Based Hiring for Employers

Changing up your hiring funnel to prioritize skills may sound disruptive. A traditional process of elimination may focus more on where a person studied, the degrees and diplomas they have to show for it, and their past titles.

So, to get your head in the game, let’s focus on what you stand to gain from shifting to a skills-based hiring model.

The Right People From Day-One

Embracing skills-based hiring leads to improved hiring accuracy.

By focusing on skills, employers can assemble teams with members who possess the precise competencies required for success. This cuts down on training time and costs. It also minimizes the lag time from filling a role to when the employee is fully operational and making a profitable contribution.

An Improved Candidate Experience and Employer Brand

We all want inclusive teams. However, if you reject applications because a specific qualification isn’t listed, you’re not giving every candidate a fair shot.

You may, for example, require a degree in HR for a person to sit on your human resources team. The truth is that many HR thought leaders come from a background in journalism, management or other roles that have given them excellent HR skills, including practical project management and communication skills.

Skills-based hiring promotes equal opportunities for job seekers. Candidates are evaluated based on their skills and potential rather than their past experiences. This allows individuals with diverse backgrounds and unconventional career paths to shine by highlighting their transferable skills.

The downstream effect is that candidates feel seen, and your reputation as an employer shines.

An Ever-Improving Workforce

When you hire for skills, you inadvertently also hire a particular kind of person, a philomath. A philomath is a lover of learning.

When a person has earned a qualification, they can choose to apply that knowledge repeatedly, or they can keep adding to it by learning new skills. Similarly, someone with no qualifications may have picked up many skills simply from working alongside great minds and constantly adding to their skills.

This learning can happen in a facilitated setting, such as a course, or by self-study, hands-on testing, and discovery. Either way, employing people who collect knowledge (philomaths) means your accumulative organizational skills will tend to expand.

To be fair, candidates with prestigious degrees and certifications are often also philomaths. Skills-based hiring does not mean discounting candidates who have formal qualifications. However, it gives a platform where candidates are considered based on their ability to learn and apply practical skills.

Setting Up a Hiring Funnel for Skills-Based Hiring

A hiring funnel is a systematic approach to identifying, assessing, and ultimately hiring candidates based on their specific skills and competencies. Let’s look at the key steps to establish a successful hiring funnel tailored for skills-based hiring.

1. Define the Skill Requirements

The foundation of a skills-based hiring funnel begins with a clear definition of the skills required for each position.

Collaborate with hiring managers and team leaders to identify the key competencies that will contribute to success in the role. These skills will be the benchmark for evaluating candidates throughout the hiring process.

2. Craft Compelling Job Descriptions

Articulate the skill requirements in your job descriptions. Writing a good job ad means you give job seekers a clear picture of the day-to-day tasks and expectations of the role.

Communicate the specific skills and competencies essential for success in the role. Use language that resonates with potential candidates and highlights the value of their skills in contributing to the organization’s goals.

3. Resume Screening Based on Skills

During the initial stages of the hiring process, focus on resume screening that prioritizes skills.

Look for specific examples of how candidates have applied relevant skills in their previous roles. This step ensures that candidates with the required competencies progress to the next stage.

4. Implement Skills Assessment Tools

Incorporate skills assessment tools and techniques into the application process. This could involve pre-employment tests, practical assignments, or scenario-based assessments.

These tools provide tangible insights into candidates’ abilities, allowing you to evaluate their skills objectively. Many candidate assessment tools can integrate with the recruitment software you already use. Look into recruitment process automation that can trigger the skills assessments you need for various roles based on a candidate’s success in the interview and vetting process. This will save a ton of time and admin as opposed to managing the assessments yourself.

5. Conduct Skills-Based Interviews

Skills-based interviews provide valuable insights into a candidate’s ability to perform in the role. Design interview questions that directly assess the candidate’s skills and competencies.

Use behavioral and situational questions to understand how candidates have applied their skills in real-world scenarios. Interview gamification can also prove that candidates are comfortable using the skills they say they have.

6. Use Blind Recruitment Techniques

Consider implementing blind recruitment techniques to eliminate unconscious biases in the hiring process. Remove personally identifiable information from resumes and focus solely on the skills and experiences relevant to the job.

This fosters a more inclusive hiring environment – one that aids you in building a diverse workforce.

7. Provide Skills Development Opportunities

Offer philomath candidates the chance to showcase their commitment to continuous improvement.

Highlight opportunities for skills development within the organization. This can include access to training programs, mentorship, and other resources that support ongoing skill enhancement.

8. Collaborate with Hiring Managers

Maintain open communication with hiring managers throughout the process. Ensure alignment on the required skills and gather feedback on candidates’ performance in skills assessments and interviews.

You’ll need a scoring matrix to know what skill level is acceptable for each requirement. Also, consider transferable skills. For example, if your company’s operations run on a particular software platform, a candidate adept at a similar platform may only require minimal upskilling before they are acceptable.

Collaboration with hiring managers enhances the accuracy and scope of the evaluation process.

9. Offer Clear Feedback to Candidates

Provide constructive feedback to candidates, especially if they are not selected for the role.

Offer insights into areas for improvement and suggest resources or development opportunities. Transparent communication builds a positive employer brand and encourages candidates to refine their skills.

10. Continuous Improvement and Evaluation

Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your skills-based hiring funnel. Analyze key performance indicators, such as time-to-hire, the accuracy of skill assessments, and candidate satisfaction.

Use this data to identify areas for improvement and refine your hiring process.

Future Trends in Skills-Based Hiring

Various sectors are now adopting skills-based hiring, with success stories and challenges emerging across different industries. Understanding how various sectors approach skills assessment provides valuable insights for employers and job seekers.

The future of skills-based hiring involves a continuous learning and upskilling approach. As industries evolve, candidates are expected to adapt and grow with them. This trend emphasizes the importance of ongoing education and professional development.

Final Thoughts on Skills-Based Hiring

Establishing a hiring funnel for skills-based hiring requires a strategic and well-defined approach. By defining skill requirements, implementing assessment tools, conducting skills-based interviews, and continuously refining the process, organizations can build a hiring funnel that identifies top talent and fosters a culture of ongoing skill development.

In conclusion, skills-based hiring is a transformative approach that benefits both employers and job seekers. Organizations can build high-performing teams by focusing on specific skills and competencies, while individuals can showcase their true potential.

Embracing this shift in the recruitment paradigm ensures a more accurate and inclusive hiring process.

Frieda-Marie de Jager

Frieda-Marié de Jager is the Melbourne-based Senior Content Marketing Editor for SelectSoftware Reviews — the authority on top solutions and vendors in the HR Tech space. She writes about technical subjects, including corporate compliance, workplace issues, and customs law. She holds a BTech degree in design and is a published short story author in her homeland, South Africa. Frieda is an avid content strategist, editor, writer, and graphic designer. In addition, she develops online learning material and has led world-class design and marketing teams. On weekends you can find her building Lego with the family or whipping up a storm in the kitchen.