What is skills-based hiring?

Skills-based hiring is talent acquisition that focuses on hiring employees based on the candidate’s skill set instead of their educational achievements or past roles. Rather than defining the perfect candidate by the number of letters after their name, organizations look for transferable skills or the candidate’s ability to develop them in the workplace.

Although this type of hiring requires a mindset and behavior shift for HR, it results in a broader talent pool for filling open roles.

Why is skills-based hiring so important right now?

The recent changes in the workforce have made it increasingly difficult for companies to find qualified candidates that meet all their requirements. Skills-based hiring helps companies look beyond degrees and biases and focus on objective assessments of the applicants.

Deeper talent pools

Skills-based hiring removes the emphasis on years of experience or specific education for potential applicants. Qualified applicants are constantly overlooked due to a lack of a college degree or labeled as “non-traditional.” However, it may be those very applicants that possess the skills needed to excel in a position.

Better ability to discover diverse candidates

Unfortunately, qualified candidates are often excluded based on traditional gauges like experience or education. Historical and societal discrimination is rampant in many parts of the nation. While these people may have the know-how to get the job done, they’ve never received a fair opportunity. Skills-based hiring gives this unnoticed group a chance to shine.

Improved hiring velocity + hiring budget

Companies can increase their hiring velocity by decreasing the time spent finding the “perfect” candidate. Restructuring education and experience requirements create a wider talent pool and a more timely process with ample applications. This process should equate to a “ready on Day 1” hire — or an employee ready to positively contribute to your business objectives right from the start.

How to develop a skills-based hiring approach to your recruiting process?

Define the skills/competencies that are truly necessary for your job role

Create markers to understand if a candidate holds the skills necessary for the job role. Consider the following questions when designing your recruiting process:

  • Can you utilize an assessment tool or project during the interview process?
  • Instead of education/experience, are there specific tools, software, or workflow processes that can be communicated via a resume/cover letter/interview screening that match up to the desired job skills/competencies?
  • Do they have experience from different fields of work/life that can be carried/transferable to the needed job skills? (i.e., a military veteran’s skill set translating to job skills or an athlete’s skill set translating to job competencies)

Recruiting software to lead to better talent discovery via skills-based hiring

Using AI recruiting tech software helps companies quickly source and discover talent with unconventional experiences or non-traditional backgrounds. SmartAssistant instantly screens resumes uncovering candidates who have the skills and potential to fill the needed roles. In addition, it hones in on applicants that might slip through the cracks and increase the diversity of the talent pool.

Programmatic Job Advertising & Job Posting Distribution to promote to your wider talent pools

To reach a wider talent pool, you’ll need to distribute your job posting outside the standard job searching sites. For example, a qualified applicant may shy away from LinkedIn but use Indeed or GoodHire to search for jobs regularly. However, manually posting to each job site is tedious and eats up valuable time, so SmartRecruiters designed SmartDistribute.

SmartDistribute enables you to post to over 300 job boards at once and track the performance of all the job boards in a single location. By seeing which job boards perform the best for skills-based hiring, you can focus on these to bring in more underrated talent.

Skills-Based Hiring Job Description Template

  1. Start by re-examining each part of your existing job description.

    • Are there components that imply a bias towards a pedigree or specific educational/work experiences that aren’t necessary to excel at the job?
    • What about requirements that don’t align with the job’s required competencies?
  2. Job Description Section.

    • Avoid phrases or words in this section that imply biases towards specific age ranges or educational backgrounds.
    • Specifically communicate the business impact of the role.
  3. Company Description Section.

    • In this section, make it clear to candidates that your company values skill sets and competencies.
  4. Qualifications Section:

    • This section states what level of education is necessary vs. sufficient for the role. (For example, Associate degree vs. bachelor’s degree, military tenure vs. college degree, or years of experience vs. college degree.)
    • Is a form of education (i.e., college major) necessary for this role? Unless the position requires specific science/math knowledge only transferable via a particular degree, don’t limit your job opportunities to specific majors.
    • Provide a multitude of options that can satisfy education requirements. You’ll avoid closing the talent pool to only members of specific economic/academic circumstances. (i.e., A 4-year degree OR a 2-year degree + x years of experience)
    • Be specific about competencies/skills required that are not educational-degree or experience level specific. This reduces the chance of applicants having to guess if they’re a good fit before the application and interview processes.
    • If the job role requires knowledge of certain software, outline this one by one. Include a breakdown of daily and weekly job duties. Highlight the types of projects they’ll participate in. Candidates empowered with this information can assess whether their skill set matches the competencies required.
  5. Preferred Qualifications Section:

    • Focus on elements of “pre-employment testing, certification, and employment history” that communicate what you will be looking for during the hiring process.
  6. Additional Information Section: Include these statements in your additional information section.

    • Equal Employment Opportunity Statement
    • Fair Chance Ordinance (FCO)
    • Candidate Data Privacy Notice