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Skill-Based Hiring: Redefining the Candidate


Future of Talent Institute Weekly

June 24 · Issue #67 · View online
Weekly Trends and Ideas that Make a Difference

Skill Based Hiring Video Intro
Skill-Based Hiring: Redefining the Candidate
We are stuck in traditional ways of recruiting without the data to support or justify it. We hire for degrees or schools or experience rather than for the contribution a person could make to our organization.
We, defined as the recruiter and the hiring manager and maybe senior leadership, assume that to be successful candidates must meet several criteria before they can be offered a position.
The hiring manager decides what degrees, skills, and experience a candidate must have. This is almost always based on historical precedent and decided with no objective data to support it. I have never met a hiring manager who could empirically show me that a degree or a certain level of experience made any difference to the productivity or ability of the employee.
In addition, anyone lacking even one of the many requirements is often rejected by the recruiter (or screened out by software trained by a recruiter) and never gets an interview or an opportunity to speak with the hiring manager. For example, if someone is lacking a year or so of experience, she is likely to be rejected, or if she has an irrelevant degree, or no degree.
And finally we have for the last few years been obsessively focused on culture fit. What this translates to is very often bias. We unconsciously or consciously are most attracted to people that think, speak and even look like us. There is nothing wrong with those traits, but when there is no diversity there is groupthink and a uniformity that stifles innovation.
To further support the argument that many of the required criteria are overrated is the simple fact that allowing employees to move internally has become very popular. Many of those who have transferred do not have the experience or the proper educational background for the position. Yet they have been successful. Firms such as IBM, GE, J&J and others, have always focused on transferring or promoting within and providing internal training, development or coaching where needed.
Skill-based Hiring
We know that most of what anyone knows about a job is learned on the job. Informal and experiential learning are the primary ways that people achieve excellence and increase productivity. When we hire someone, we are hiring potential and a skill or set of skills knowing that the person will learn the job and continue to learn and develop.
Perhaps, rather than focus on credentials, we should adopt these guidelines.
#1. Hire for experience in doing something related to what the work requires. For example, if you are hiring for a software company, hire someone who self-learned coding or has written an app. If you are in human resources, perhaps someone who has worked with seniors or kids or who has shown empathy for and has experience in working with people. As Ginnie Rometty, Chairman of IBM says, “Do away with specific college requirements and focus on a “skills-first” hiring approach. ”
#2. Look at a person’s potential. Are they motivated to learn, do they have a pattern of learning new things and experimenting? Do they read? Are they curious? These are better indicators of future success than a degree,
#3. Look for agility and flexibility. Have they shown that they can thrive in different situations? Have they faced adversity and overcome it? DO thye have determination and a “can do” attitude?
#4. Do they have confidence in their abilities and are they eager for the job? Are they excited. This is why active candidates might be better than passive ones as they have shown interest in your organization. Often motivation is far more important than lazy expertise.
#5. To bring in diversity and to assess capability, create and hire from apprenticeship or internship pools. And hire internally from those employees who are known and who have motivation.
In this time of chaotic change, we should also change the way we think about job requirements and open up to a broader and more diverse set of employees.
Special Thanks
Special thanks to everyone who mentioned our newsletter or recommended others to sign up. It is much appreciated. Welcome and thanks as well to all our new subscribers. Special thanks to: Jacob Sten Madsen, Jeroen van Weeghel, Karen Azuylai, and Bas van de Haterd for their continuous support.
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Related & Interesting Links
15 More Companies That No Longer Require a Degree—Apply Now | Glassdoor
Employers like EY and IBM are now hiring workers without college degrees
IBM’s Ginni Rometty: The way we hire must change | Fortune
Stop Confusing Your Job Skills With Your Credentials
Your Approach to Hiring Is All Wrong (Older article advocating more internal hiring)
About This Newsletter
Hand curated articles, videos, podcasts, and other media on the future of work, talent, recruitment, and learning. If you find this useful, please share on Twitter. You can always reach me at
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