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null How to use skills-based hiring in your organisation


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Organisations are recognising that relying on traditional hiring criteria will leave them at a disadvantage, especially in a competitive market. As a result, organisations opting for a skills-based hiring approach is on the increase.

Around three-quarters of companies test job seeker’s skills multiple times during the interview process. Now, skills are becoming the key focus when recruiting for specific roles. Hiring managers that use skills-based hiring practices are already seeing significant benefits. Organisations are saving both cost and time spent searching for the right talent.
With more employers than ever embracing skills-based hiring, will traditional qualifications and lengthy CVs become a thing of the past? There are still significant barriers to skills-based hiring, but breaking these down could be key to filling roles with the right talent.

What is a skills based hiring approach?

Skills-based hiring is a way of searching for, and attracting talent that meets the key job requirements. Instead of focusing on bachelor's degrees or other formal educational achievements, a skills-based approach looks at a candidate's experience.
Focusing on skills is surging in popularity. Amid ongoing talent shortages, businesses are increasingly open to considering candidates who may not have taken a traditional career path.
Prospective candidates may have the skillsets and related experience to succeed, and now they have the opportunity to show it.

What are the benefits of skills based hiring?

You can expand your potential talent pool:

One of the biggest advantages to skills-based hiring is having access to a broader talent pool. Removing arbitrary educational requirements can help to avoid disregarding valuable candidates.

Focusing on potential can save money:

If academic ability takes priority over all other skills, it can lead to some poor hiring decisions. Hiring the wrong person can cost your organisation significant resources. By implementing skills-based hiring, managers can focus on the best candidates for the job at hand. As a result, the relative quality of candidates often increases. In fact, 92.5% of companies report seeing a reduction in their mis-hire rate.

You can plug skills gaps and future proof your roles: 

We've previously discussed the importance of recognising transferable skills. By being more flexible with your job description, you can hire for soft skills rather than qualifications alone. Broadening your candidate search can provide long-term benefits for your business. After all, formal qualifications may not be relevant in a few years. By identifying opportunities for building technical skills, you can fill any skills gaps and future proof your organisation.

Your recruitment processes can become more efficient:

Using a skills-based recruitment process can reduce the amount of time it takes from application to job offer. Hiring managers can quickly identify and rank candidates based on their skills when using a skills-based process.

Hire based on skills and improve your retention rates:

By hiring based on skills, you can make sure the job description matches the candidate’s abilities. This makes you more likely to find the right match even without a degree. One study suggests that a skills-based approach means businesses are 98% more likely to retain high performers.

Skills-based job postings can increase diversity of applicants and reduce bias:

The Office for Students has uncovered that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to complete a university degree course. This general trend suggests that people from underrepresented groups are often discouraged from higher education. These applicants may be less likely to have a university degree.
If employers focus solely on education, they risk excluding these candidates from roles they may want to apply for. Skills-based hiring considers attributes relevant for the job and allows all applicants equal consideration.

Are there any barriers to adopting skills-based hiring practices?

The benefits of skills-based hiring are well known, but not everyone in your organisation will be on board with the changes. You may face challenges along the way, including:

Your hiring managers may be resistant to change: 

Many senior managers' opposition to skills-based hiring is due to a lack of understanding. For senior leaders, there is not enough clarity on the role that different skills might play in their organisation.
When 35% of large companies and 47% of SMEs removed their degree requirements, more than half cited that hiring managers were still insisting on certain qualifications.

Job descriptions still contain unnecessary requirements:

One of the key challenges of skills-based recruitment is validating the skills that prospective employees put forward. You can remove degree requirements, but how exactly do you judge a candidate’s skills through interviews alone?
A hiring manager might wonder if a candidate can learn the necessary skills without experience in a similar job. Some organisations want candidates to have years of work experience. However, research shows that having more years of experience does not always relate to better job performance.

How you can start to implement hiring practices based on skills

Implementing a skills-based strategy should begin with potential quick wins, such as removing degree requirements from job descriptions.
You also need to think of a plan for the long term, to increase your chances of success. For example, think how a skills-based approach can improve each stage of the employee journey:
  • Interviews: ensure that new employees are ready for success by interviewing based on skills. Using behavioural and situational interview questions are excellent ways to judge proficiency in specific skills. For more insight, read our guide to asking competency-based interview questions.
  • Onboarding: identify relevant skills and adapt your onboarding process accordingly. Also look out for skills gaps, to support new hires from an early stage.
  • Development: using skills-based practices can help to identify learning opportunities quickly and accurately. Skill assessments can inform continual professional development plans. This approach will ensure that new hires have the skills to grow and progress in the long term.
Now more than ever employees are aware of how important their skills are to potential employers. By implementing skills-based hiring practices, you can broaden your talent network and uncover candidates that may have previously been overlooked.
Committing to these new practices within your organisation can help to ensure your ongoing success and worker satisfaction.

Find more tips from Enterprise Solutions

Looking to future proof your organisation? Find more information on skills-based workforces here:



Harry Gooding
Director UK&I, Hays Skills and Learning

Harry is part of Hays Skills and Learning, a new business in the Hays portfolio supporting our customer network to develop programmes that open up employment pportunities to 'undiscovered talent' communities.

After beginning his career in recruitment, Harry then worked in VC backed start-ups and scale-ups for six years across two different portfolios, before joining Hays.