Hiring processes are constantly changing, adapting to new ways of reaching applicants, and discovering how to best assess their suitability for the job. In recent years, we’ve seen HR teams rethink recruitment processes by increasing online interviews, encouraging the use of links in resumes, or using tests in the application process. These help applicants to represent themselves better, as well as aid hiring teams in identifying the right people to take on.
Within this, job descriptions and interviews have become more skills-based, emphasizing the importance of skills that the applicant has built up over education or degrees. This enables applicants to more easily change career paths, seeing as they are able to focus on their transferable skills rather than the specifics of their past roles. For employers, skills-based hiring allows them to focus on the competency of the applicants and how well they would fulfill the available role.
What is Skills-based Hiring?
As the name suggests, skills-based hiring is about the skills that applicants can bring to a job role, rather than academic education. This shapes how job descriptions are written, emphasizing the skills that the role will require and asking applicants to demonstrate these with their experience. It also reduces the barriers preventing people from applying for the role, as formal education or specific degrees aren’t required in the person specification.
Skills-based hiring recognizes that everyone has different backgrounds, but that doesn’t necessarily limit the person or mean they’re a bad fit for a role. Instead, it focuses on how their experience has built up the important skills used in the job. These can be a combination of soft and hard skills used in any context, such as communication, organization, or knowing how to use free quoting software or specific applications for the job.
How Effective is Skills-based Hiring?
Diversity in the workplace can lead to stronger, and more innovative and effective teams by having various experiences and backgrounds to draw knowledge from. Unfortunately, many hiring processes can limit diversity by setting firm requirements for specific educational backgrounds and qualifications. Although these can provide useful expertise to the new hire, qualifications are not the only way to gain valuable experience to contribute to the team.
Moving the focus of your hiring process to the skills that individuals have means fewer applicants are put off by barriers like traditional education. Instead, your policy and procedure should emphasize the importance of hiring someone with the right skills to work effectively in your team and adapt over qualifications. While educational institutions can build these skills, other experiences that build the same skills are valued equally by the hiring team.
Laying out the various skills an applicant needs for your job role helps to set the expectations and describe what the job will be like. This means applicants are less likely to face a shock during onboarding as they take on the role. As the employee knows the skills involved upfront, they can prepare themselves and know they have the abilities to manage the position. Being ready in this way can improve the experiences of new employees with your company.
Similarly, for existing employees furthering their careers, having skills-based hiring enables them to identify the skills they need for the role they want. This can encourage an authentic company culture of learning and skills improvement, helping employees to build skills in their current position by taking training courses or opting for projects with new experiences. When they’re ready to progress, your employees will feel equipped to apply for internal roles.
Specifying the skills for the role in your job description and centering on these throughout the application process can make it more efficient and successful. To begin with, the applicants you receive will be more aligned with the needs of the role, meaning less of your time will be spent on inappropriate applications. This reduces the amount of filtering required to find the right job candidate, as the necessities are already clearly stated.
Taking a skills-based approach also reduces your chance of having to restart the job advertising, as those who do apply should be suitable candidates. This means you won’t be wasting interview days or time file sharing application resources with candidates who aren’t capable in the role, simply because they had the right qualifications. Instead, you can prioritize applicants who can show their skills and use your resources more effectively with them.
Attract More Applicants
By reducing the restrictions and barriers to your job role, more jobseekers will feel that they can apply for it. Those without a formal education or qualifications aren’t put off from applying for the role and can present their experience throughout your application process. This enables a wider range of people to recognize their abilities in your person specification, encouraging them to contact your hiring team and go for the position.
With more applicants for your job roles, your hiring team has a wider pool to choose from, making it more likely that they find the ideal person for the job. Your skills-based job description ensures all applicants will be capable in the position. This allows employers to focus more on the effectiveness of the person in your existing team, looking at the work ethic and how they fit with your company culture as their ability to perform the role is already considered.
Skills-based hiring doesn’t have to be limited to emphasizing skills in your person specification. Instead, it can extend throughout the hiring process, using skills as a basis for interview tasks and application form questions. These can help to review the extent of the applicant’s skills as well as learn how these skills have been built up. With this additional context, hiring teams can determine how easily these skills can be put into practice at your company.
Including skills-based tasks and questions throughout the application process can also give candidates an impression of how you expect them to use these skills in the role. This lets them know what the position looks like so that they can decide whether the role is right for them. The skills focus means applicants know what abilities they need to be an effective part of your team, so the employee onboarding process runs smoother.
Tips for Using Skills-based Hiring to Build an Effective and Competent Team
Identify the Role
There’s no point starting the hiring process until you know what position you need to be advertising. Even with filling a vacancy, it’s worth reviewing whether that role would be more effective with different responsibilities or with a changed focus, and checking that your new hire documents are updated. Build a job description for the role, including the different tasks and projects that are covered by it, as well as the teams that the position is a part of within your company.
Highlight Essential and Preferable Skills
From your job description, you can draw out the skills needed to be successful in the role. It’s useful to divide these into essential skills and preferable skills, recognizing which capabilities the applicants need to already have alongside those they can continue to build on the job. This promotes employee development in your company, aiming to improve the skills your new hire has and add to them through the experiences they gain.
Create a Person Specification
Your person specification sets out who should apply for your open position and should use your essential and preferable skills. To attract more applicants, make it clear that these skills can come from a variety of experiences and backgrounds. The specification can also highlight other desirable aspects of the applicant or additional abilities; however, the focus should be on the transferable skills they have and will use in the job role.
Test Applicant Abilities
Focus on skills in applicant interviews by asking them to explain scenarios where they’ve used the appropriate skills. Even when asking for their resume, check that they can use a Word to PDF converter by specifying the file format you want. This asks the applicants to use the skills in different contexts and transfer the experience to the new role. Other tasks to assess these skills could include group work, problem-solving situations, or prioritizing various tasks.
Make Your Next Hire Skills-based
Finding your new hire by using a skills-based process can give you a clearer picture of how competent and prepared for the role they are. If they’ve already practiced the skills in other circumstances, they’ll be able to use them again on your company projects. For example, if someone has the skills to adapt to new software quickly and to design branding, they can easily learn to use a monogram logo maker or create social media marketing designs.
Skills-based hiring also helps to remove unnecessary barriers for applicants, focusing on the most important aspects of a job. Whilst educational history and certifications can show a level of knowledge in your applicants, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee the person has the skills to apply to the role. Moreover, skills can be built in a range of environments, so recognize this in your job advertising by focusing on them.
About the author: Yauhen Zaremba – Director of Demand Generation
Yauhen is the Director of Demand Generation at PandaDoc, all-in-one document management tool for almost all types of documents including these apartment lease agreement templates. He’s been a marketer for 10+ years, and for the last five years, he’s been entirely focused on the electronic signature, proposal, and document management markets. Yauhen has experience speaking at niche conferences where he enjoys sharing his expertise with other curious marketers. And in his spare time, he is an avid fisherman and takes nearly 20 fishing trips every year.