Why Your Organization’s Hiring Approach Should Focus on Candidate’s Skills

skills first hiring interview

Is your company ignoring a huge pool of available candidates when sourcing your open roles? Your organization might be missing out on hiring the right person for the role by not taking a “skills-first” approach to hiring. The term ‘skills first’ means that your hiring and talent management approach focuses on a person’s skills and competencies. This is a change from evaluating candidates based on their degrees, titles, years of experience, etc. Many organizations exclude candidates entirely and don’t even evaluate them if they have the required background. For example, LinkedIn found that over 70% of jobs require degrees — but less than 50% of the U.S. workforce holds a bachelor’s degree. Your company’s available talent pool is even smaller if you are only looking for candidates from elite schools, top companies, or many years of experience.

What is skills-first hiring?

In the last couple of years, organizations were faced with having a lot more openings than they had candidates who checked all their required boxes. This forced companies to evaluate whether their approach to hiring made the most sense in the changing hiring landscape around them. As a result, many organizations have changed their hiring strategies and discovered the benefits of shifting to a skills-first approach. According to data from LinkedIn, 40% of hirers on LinkedIn used skills to fill open roles. This skills-first approach to hiring is up 20% year-over-year. The results of this shift speak for themselves. Employers using skills-first hiring are 60% more likely to find a successful hire compared to those not relying on skills. This data clearly makes the case for why organizations should change their hiring to evaluate candidates based on skills.

How your organization can use assessments to evaluate a candidate’s skills.

If your organization is new to assessing a candidate’s skills, there are plenty of tools (including ones offered by AcuMax) that can help you make hiring decisions based on skills. You can use testing to measure a candidate’s innate skills.  Assessments like AcuMax Index measure how people are wired using a scientific and statistically valid methodology. By getting access to this data you have the information you need to know which candidate is the best fit for your job and who has the innate wiring to be able to succeed in a role. Analyzing assessment data focuses on whether they are likely to succeed in the future, instead of if they have a degree or worked in a similar role in the past. These scientifically-valid skills-first hiring assessments are quick and easy for a candidate to complete. Hiring assessments take only a couple of minutes of a candidate’s time to be able to give you information on their abilities.

Taking a skills-first approach benefits your entire talent management program.

Focusing on skills as a measure of abilities should not just be for new hires. Your organization should revamp its entire approach to talent management and emphasize skills when deciding employee opportunities for growth. Turnover is expensive for every company. The expense to your company isn’t just the simple costs associated with recruiting and filling the open role. Retaining and growing your existing internal talent allows your company to keep essential knowledge that can take time to develop. Existing employees have familiarity with the organization and its products, services, consumers, systems, processes, and strategies.

Companies that focus on their current employee’s skills and use that for internal promotion pathways have more employees who choose to stay with the organization. Employees will choose to stay with your organization because they can see a barrier-free pathway forward within your company. Focusing on skills-first also allows you to develop existing talent. Your company can offer training and skills development to existing employees as a way of planning to meet your organization’s future needs.

Skills-first hiring promotes equity and diversity.

Another added benefit of a skills-based approach is that it lends itself to more equitable finding and promoting talent. Not all candidates have the same access to higher education or high-paying jobs. However, a lack of access shouldn’t be interpreted as a lack of ability. A skills-based approach gives every candidate opportunities to grow their career and focuses on their future potential and ability to perform in a role.

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