Skills-based hiring is a great solution for businesses facing talent shortages for open roles. This more inclusive approach helps source candidates with amazing skillsets from a wider variety of backgrounds, who bring knowledge, skill, ideas, and innovation into your team! Here’s how to implement it.
Skills-based hiring evaluates candidates for roles based on the skills they have, instead of their education or qualifications.
Competition for digital talent has been fierce over the last few years, and with technologies and skills fast changing in this sector, there are lots of ways a person may have developed the skills needed to bring value to your team and reach your goals.
How to source talent through skills-based hiring
Reviewing or transforming a hiring process can be taken in steps. Iterating what works well for you and your teams as you learn and revise. For example, start with an evergreen or hard-to-fill role and make small changes to focus on candidate skills and competencies over experience.
Here we take a glimpse at some of the ways you can implement skills-based hiring starting today.
1. Review and rewrite your job ads and job descriptions
Skills-based job descriptions focus the competencies a candidate should have to be successful in the role. It’s important to determine ahead of time which skills are essential to start with, and which skills can be developed in post.
Challenge any unnecessary requirements – qualifications like degrees or years of experience – that may present barriers to otherwise competent and capable candidates from applying. It can help to do this with a team member, the hiring manager if that’s not you, or the HR department at your company.
Consider candidates that have transferrable skillsets from other sectors or countries and add acceptable substitutions for any essential requirements you have to keep your talent pool broad and inclusive.
2. Build robust candidate pipelines
What you write in your job specification and how you phrase your job ads impacts who applies. While you want that to an extent to make sure only capable candidates apply, consider who you might be putting off from applying altogether.
Considering and assessing learning agility is critical for any role today. Someone’s ability to keep learning and adapt to new concepts and technologies is a key consideration, and their inexperience with certain methodologies, platforms and tools could even be a benefit in helping them adapt and adopt new tools and ways of working. Skills expire, particularly in the fast-changing Tech space, so the interest, motivation and ability to learn is so important!
Skills-based hiring means more proactively sourcing talent and building a broader candidate pipeline – which not only benefits you with finding an amazing person to join your company but could also mean securing a new perspective and set of experiences to strengthen and diversify your team as well. At Salt our methodology is proactive in building a robust talent network every day of the year.
3. Screen candidates inclusively
Sadly, it’s too easy for unconscious bias to impact decision making.
Don’t be tempted to prioritise and shortlist candidates by education qualifications, or well-recognised companies, over candidates with relevant skillsets from less well-known institutions or organizations. This means missing out on great talent from other backgrounds.
Develop screening criteria with the role in mind – and match it against every candidate’s skills equally. Considering the role itself and what skills are needed can help set up a more inclusive screening process. Space on resumes and applications is limited and candidates may not list every relevant skill, so carrying out behaviour-based interviews give you that added layer of insight.
If they have a strong foundational skillset that will help them learn quickly on the job, it’s worth shortlisting them!
4. Use skills-based assessments throughout the hiring process
A candidate’s qualifications can be more objectively measured through a skills assessment.
This is an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate skills practically and can simulate a situation or task that might come up in post.
There’s potential for certain skills assessments to be reviewed anonymously, so you are seeing each candidate’s work without identifying whose it is. This can help to keep biases separate in more subjective skills assessments, like copywriting or pitching.
For example, you might ask a software engineer to complete a coding challenge to assess their programming skills, while a sales candidate might be asked to role-play a cold call.
5. Design a skills-based interview structure to use for every candidate
Ahead of time, based on the job specification, you should develop an interview structure to use consistently with each and every candidate you invite to interview.
Your interview structure should assess their ability across required skills, but also their competencies and their ability to learn.
Using behavioural questions, in a behaviour-based or competency-based interview approach, will give a clearer idea of what their workstyle is, what soft skills they have, how they approach difficult tasks or conversations, and how their skillset could plug in to your working processes.
6. Reconsider what background checks are for
Background checks today can be intensive – with social media networks and internet presence being easy to find for anyone recruiting.
While applicants should be aware of their own presence online and how that might reflect to future employers – there is also ample opportunity to trigger biases based on what they do in their free time, how they dress outside of the office, who their friends are and more.
This is all information that isn’t applicable to their potential for the role and shouldn’t be used to make decisions about their suitability or competency.
Rethink what your background checks are for and make sure they focus only on what needs to be verified for the job itself
7. Make fair job offers
It’s important to pay fairly, according to skill and competency rather than background and qualifications.
Job offers should be based on a candidate’s skills, competencies and expected impact, instead of how many years’ experience and what level of education they have.
It’s important to also allow for growth, development and progression within the salary range for the role, and to be clear with candidates applying how they can earn higher levels of pay over time. This way you can motivate and reward performance with higher compensation and career opportunities that help employees grow with your business.
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