The New Normal: Skills-Based Hiring in the 21st Century

In today’s job market, employers are increasingly abandoning the outdated practice of screening and hiring new employees based on their educational background or degree. Instead, they’re looking for candidates with the skills, capabilities, and talent they need to succeed in the role. This shift toward skills-based hiring is being driven by several factors, including the ever-changing nature of the workforce, the rise of automation, and the need for companies to be more nimble and adaptable to stay competitive.

The Key Differences

If you’re relying on traditional screening tools and tactics to hire the best talent, you may be overlooking some great candidates. That’s because many of these practices simply look for keywords on an application to verify if the candidate is suitable for the role. While this may help ensure the candidate is the “right fit,” it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best fit. Here’s why…

The Traditional Hiring Process is Flawed

One of the biggest problems with the traditional hiring process is relying too heavily on resumes. Resumes are unreliable at best since many candidates may inflate their experience or outright lie. And even if a resume is accurate, it doesn’t necessarily tell you if a candidate can perform well. For example, someone may have all the necessary qualifications for a job but lack the soft skills required to be successful in the role.

Additionally, the application process is possibly the most vital step to attracting candidates, and yet it’s also the furthest behind considering modern advances. When employers require candidates to upload a resume via a true computer (restricting location) and also require an internal application filled out (lengthening the process), they risk high levels of application abandonment from the start. The whole process is archaic and severely hinders the size of your pipeline, yet many companies aren’t giving the application process a second thought.

Another issue with traditional hiring practices is that they often focus too much on education or degree as a proxy for talent. While having a degree from a prestigious university may be impressive, it doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate will be a good fit for the job. In fact, many highly talented individuals don’t have any formal education.

Bonus Material: Discover 10 Easy Ways To Build Out Your Talent Pools

The Skills Gap

One of the primary drivers of this shift is the so-called “skills gap.” According to a recent survey by ManpowerGroup, nearly half of employers worldwide are struggling to fill vacant positions because they can’t find candidates with the right skills. This skills gap is only expected to grow in the coming years, as more jobs are lost to automation, and technological advancements make it necessary for workers to have a certain skill set to succeed. And of course…

Changing Times Brings Changes to Hiring and Recruiting

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the labor market; primarily that employees are rethinking their priorities, and employers are responding in turn. Many employers struggled to find skilled workers during the pandemic, leading them to relax degree requirements for many jobs.

There are several reasons why employers may be willing to forgo degree requirements during the pandemic. First, there is a decreased pool of qualified candidates due to the economic downturn. Second, many colleges and universities have moved to online instruction, making it harder for students to gain the skills and experience employers are looking for. Finally, the pandemic has forced many employers to reevaluate their workforce needs and find ways to do more with less. As a result, they may be more open to hiring workers without degrees if they have the necessary skills and experience.

It’s important to note that this shift may only be temporary and that degree requirements could return to pre-pandemic levels once the economy recovers. However, even if this is the case, the pandemic has highlighted the need for employers to be more flexible in their hiring practices. One way employers are adapting is to offer hybrid work models in their search for a particular skill set. If an organization requires a specific degree or experience level, they’re going to have better luck attracting a fit candidate by offering opportunities for remote work.

The Importance of Soft Skills

Soft skills are the ability to work in groups, communicate efficiently in real-time, and prioritize tasks. These skills are far harder to assess than technical or “hard” skills, which can be easily confirmed through pre-employment testing, certification, and employment history. Many employers believe that college graduates possess more-refined social or soft skills.

The problem is that when employers use college degrees as a proxy for soft skills, they may be excluding qualified candidates from consideration. This is particularly true in today’s job market, where many talented individuals don’t have college degrees. By ditching degree requirements from job postings, you can help ensure that you don’t miss out on top talent.

The Impact of Skill-Based Hiring Practices

There are several reasons why skill-based hiring is so important. First and foremost, it allows you to hire the best possible candidates for the job—regardless of their educational background or work experience. This is especially important in today’s rapidly changing job market, where employees must be adaptable and learn new skills quickly. Secondly, skill-based hiring helps to reduce bias in the hiring process. Focusing on a candidate’s skills rather than their resume can help level the playing field for underrepresented groups who may not have access to the same education or work opportunities as others.

How to Implement Skill-Based Hiring Practices

If you’re interested in moving to a skill-based hiring model, you can do a few things to get started. First, take a close look at your current hiring practices. Are you relying too heavily on resumes? Are you using the same criteria for every candidate? If so, it’s time to make some changes. Instead of relying on resumes, consider using assessment tests or trial projects to evaluate candidates. This will give you a better idea of their actual skills and abilities rather than just their experience or education.

You should also make sure you’re using the same criteria for every candidate by creating a standardized rubric that can be used for each person who applies for the position. Finally, don’t forget to train your team on the importance of skill-based hiring and how to implement it properly. Only by working together will you be able to find the best possible candidates for your organization.

READ: How to Effectively Hire and Retain During a Talent Shortage

The Rise of Automation

Another factor driving the shift toward skills-based hiring is the rise of automation. First, there’s a glaring problem with AI in talent acquisition ruling out candidates for lacking specific keywords on their resume and thus eliminating quality candidates before they’ve even had a chance. In a talent shortage, we can not let a computer alone decide what a perfect candidate looks like and ignore the ret. Moreover, as more tasks are automated, it’s becoming increasingly important for employers to hire talent with a mixture of hard and soft skills to ensure the future success of their business. This speaks to the tasks and services that a machine can’t easily replicate.

For example, jobs that require human interaction, such as customer service or sales, are much less likely to be automated than jobs that involve repetitive tasks or simple data entry. Therefore, employers are now placing a premium on candidates with strong communication skills, emotional intelligence, and other so-called “human” skills.

The Need for Agility

In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, it’s no longer enough for companies to simply maintain the status quo. To stay competitive, they need to be agile and adaptable—able to respond quickly to changes in their industry or marketplace. This need for agility has placed a greater emphasis on hiring employees who can think critically, solve problems creatively, and take initiative. In other words, employees who possess so-called “21st-century” skills.

Evaluating Candidates Without Degrees

So, how can you evaluate candidates without degrees? One way is to focus on their experience. If a candidate doesn’t have a degree but does have relevant work experience, they may be just as qualified (or even more qualified) than a candidate with a degree but no relevant experience.

Another way to evaluate candidates without degrees is to give them a test or assignment during the interview process. This will give you firsthand insight into their abilities and whether they’re a good fit for the position. For example, if you’re hiring for a writing position, you could ask candidates to complete a writing sample during their interview.

Implications for Workforce Needs

The most obvious implication of the skills reset is that organizations must find workers with the right skills for their open positions. However, employers will also need to consider the possibility that employees’ skills may no longer be aligned with their current roles. As a result, organizations may need to retrain or reallocate existing employees to new roles or functions. Additionally, employers will need to consider how best to invest in developing employees’ skills to prepare them for future opportunities.

Adapting Recruiting Strategies

The skills reset allows recruiters to revisit their sourcing and recruiting strategies. In particular, they may want to consider two questions: First, what are the implications of this reset for our organization’s current and future workforce needs? Second, how can we adapt our recruiting strategies to find workers with in-demand skills? Organizations that take advantage of this opportunity will be well-positioned to build a strong workforce prepared for the future.

The bottom line is that employers can no longer afford to use an educational background or degree as a screening tool when hiring new employees— doing so will only result in them missing out on qualified candidates. Instead, they need to adopt a skills-based approach that considers both hard and soft skills. Only then will they be able to find the talent they need to compete in today’s ever-changing business landscape.

Do you want a partner to guide you through a skills-based hiring approach? PREDICTIVEHR has been working with companies like yours for years.

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