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Beyond Degrees: Adopting Skills-Based Hiring to Make Your Team Stand Out in 2024

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For many employers, January is an opportune time to step up recruitment efforts and onboard new team members who will help accomplish an organization's goals. If this is you, consider shaking up your hiring strategy with skills-based hiring.

What is skills-based hiring?

Skills-based hiring prioritizes demonstrable abilities over pedigree, focusing on what candidates can actually do, not what they've done in the past. As almost every employer we talk to can attest, workforces and workplaces have both changed dramatically in the last decade. The fast-changing pace of technology and customer demands means that job descriptions are also changing rapidly, even if job titles stay the same. Consider a Communications Manager for example. Ten years ago, a Communications Manager would have been responsible for managing relationships with traditional media outlets, preparing press releases, and developing media pitches. Today, a person in that same role is responsible for preparing social media strategies across many different platforms, staying in touch with the latest trends to resonate directly with an organization's customer base, and implementing data analyses to ensure content remains visible.

Skills-based hiring looks beyond the traditional resume credentials to assess whether a candidate's actual capabilities meet the job requirements. Instead of comparing candidates for a Communications Manager position based on graduate degrees, for example, a skills-based recruitment process might focus on:

  • what social media platforms a candidate has used before

  • whether they are competent in video editing or podcast production, and

  • their ability to understand and adapt to SEO algorithms

What are the benefits of skills-based hiring?

Skills-based hiring -- when done well -- can benefit both candidates and employers in several ways: 

First, skills-based hiring offers a more inclusive approach to candidates who possess the transferable skills necessary to excel in a position, but who acquired those skills through self-directed learning or prior work experience, rather than through traditional education. Incorporating a more diverse workforce fosters creative problem-solving, sparks innovation, and strengthens decision-making, leading to higher performance overall.

Second, skills-based hiring requires employers to think critically about what essential job duties are actually required in a position -- leading to more accurate job descriptions that communicate to candidates what is required from the outset. Increased transparency throughout the recruitment process increases the ability to maintain retention rates and job satisfaction after a candidate is brought onto the team.

The bottom line:

Skills-based hiring can be a game-changer in stepping up your recruitment process, but it requires planning. Make sure you take the time to incorporate thorough job descriptions, skills assessments, and structured interviews into your hiring strategy. And don't forget to train your hiring teams to recognize and evaluate skills effectively, moving beyond buzzwords and focusing on concrete demonstrations of proficiency.

As always, if you need assistance, Envision Initiative is here to help!

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