HR Query

HR Query: Cracking the Skills Code

The hunt for talent is on, but are we focusing on the right things? In this week’s HR Query, Carina Cortez, Chief People Officer at Cornerstone, challenges traditional hiring methods and explores the rise of skills-based recruitment. Learn how HR leaders are shifting their focus from resumes to real-world abilities, crafting a new paradigm for building a high-performing and future-proof workforce. So, are you ready to crack the skills code and unlock the true potential of your talent pool?

Why are HR leaders increasingly adopting a skill-centric approach in their hiring efforts?

CC: Employers are realizing that evaluating candidates based only on their education and work experience may not show their true talent and strongest abilities to do the job. Instead, they are assessing candidates based on their real-world skills and potential contributions.

Also, there’s an increasing emphasis on making access to internal opportunities more equitable by this I mean, creating a marketplace of opportunities where everyone has visibility to advancement opportunities in their organization, allowing for greater opportunity for growth and career development. Unlike in the past, where advancement decisions were made for employees, now they have more power to shape their own future within organizations. A talent marketplace gives employees the freedom to showcase their skills, see what promotion or advancement opportunities are available, and have visibility into a variety of career paths. This allows for more inclusive and equitable access to opportunities while promoting continuous learning and development internally.

What are the key benefits of focusing on skills rather than just qualifications?

CC: When interviewing candidates, evaluating real-world job skills is a great predictor of a candidate’s ability to excel in the role and determine if their goals match the company’s objectives. By focusing on skills, companies can expand the pool of potential candidates and consider jobs as a blend of different skills rather than just a traditional career path. This approach is beneficial for both sides – the employers are more likely to hire the right candidate for the job, and the employee is more likely to succeed, leading to better employee experience and reduced attrition.

For example, looking for top talent from diverse backgrounds, including those with non-traditional career paths or alternative education backgrounds. This promotes diversity and inclusion efforts by widening the talent pool because the ability to be successful in the role is not solely based on qualifications.

Lastly, there’s an opportunity to identify candidates with transferable skills that can be applied to a new role, even if they don’t have direct experience in that specific role. With a skills-based approach, recruiters can open doors for candidates who may have previously been excluded from certain positions. Ultimately, focusing on a candidate’s ability to do the job, rather than their qualifications on paper.

How does a skill-centric approach impact the hiring process itself?

CC: When it comes to hiring, focusing on skills is the way to go. This means changing the way job descriptions are written, how candidates are evaluated, and how interviews are conducted. HR leaders can use skill assessments, simulations, or other tools to accurately judge candidates’ abilities and their fit for the job (do ensure your assessment instruments are legal in the countries and regions you operate in).

Technology can be a game-changer here, as it can help assess candidates based on their skills and potential, instead of just their resumes. AI and machine learning algorithms can help ensure unbiased assessments, leading to diverse and inclusive hiring (although given hallucinations, do ensure there is a human review as well). This approach leads to more innovation and creativity and enhances organizational resilience in the face of change.

How does this approach help organizations emphasize the importance of learning?

CC: In my experience, the number one reason people join an organization, and typically the number one reason for leaving an organization, is career and professional development.  By offering training opportunities that are tailored to meet the needs of a constantly evolving talent market, companies are creating a workforce that has the skills needed to improve their bottom line and help their employees remain engaged, retained, and successful.

When organizations hire individuals based on their specific skills and potential for growth, they are building an agile and adaptable workforce that can effectively address evolving business needs. Additionally, this approach fosters a culture of continuous learning and development, as employees are encouraged to broaden their skill sets and take on new challenges within the organization – whether it’s an upward, lateral, or step back in their career – the development is tailored to the employee and provides them optionality. It’s amazing to see how such initiatives can benefit both the employees and the organization.

Why is a skills-based strategy more important than ever?

CC: To tackle talent retention and future-proof hiring, employers should adopt a skills-centric approach to professional development. This strategy allows employers to address skill gaps as they arise, on an individual or collective basis, rather than only when needed to fill a specific role. It also provides insights into employee’s skills beyond their job descriptions, leading to a more agile and adaptable workforce where internal talent can be considered before looking externally.

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