HR Policy Association
News

Six Steps to Refocus Your Skill-Based Hiring

Companies have embraced the value of skill-based hiring and have removed the college degree requirement from many job postings, but to be truly effective, more emphasis is needed on actually hiring these individuals. 

A U.S. Census Bureau 2023 report stated that college degree requirements remove about two-thirds of potential applicants from consideration, and disproportionately affects Black and Hispanic workers. Removing the college degree requirement where it is not needed responds to two business imperatives in a tight labor market: better hiring and increased diversity. 

Yet according to a new Harvard Business Review/Burning Glass Institute report, despite a fourfold increase in the number of job postings that once required college degrees but no longer do, fewer than four additional candidates without degrees are actually hired for every 100 of these new postings, less than a 4% gain. Getting skill-based hiring right is a goal worth pursuing as workers without degrees are 20% more likely to remain at their companies than their college-educated peers.

Why the disconnect? The report posits two key reasons that this disconnect occurs. First, while companies may stop automatically requiring college degrees, they are not developing new expansive recruiting practices. Second, hiring managers often lack knowledge of how to evaluate candidates based on skills and, therefore, revert to familiar ways to assess candidates. As the report notes, “In the absence of effective screening tools, managers have come to rely on the bachelor’s degree, both as a proxy for a candidate’s capacity to learn and grow into a new role and as an easy way to cull the applicant pool.”

The challenge: Professions with well-established certifications, like health care and information technology, result in easier analysis by hiring managers without leaning on assumptions of skills based on a college degree. The challenge lies in determining how to evaluate skills for the vast majority of occupations that do not have certifications. 

The report identified six practical steps to improve skill-based hiring:

  1. Celebrate success and show your hiring managers what is possible. Highlight success stories of organization leaders who succeeded within the company. 

  2. Reverse-engineer success. Evaluate your successful non-degree hires to identify commonalities such as similar work, training, and professional development. In addition, identify the skills most critical to success in each role.

    Also, look at which departments or work units have successfully hired non-degreed employees as well as individual hiring managers who have had success in order to replicate it across the organization.

  3. Define requirements and identify acceptable evidence. Strip down your job descriptions to identify the defined skills needed, remembering that some skills can be learned as the employee performs the job. Only after the core skills are identified should you focus on what constitutes evidence of skill mastery.

  4. Redesign how you onboard and support skills-based hires. Recognize that non-degreed hires may have different onboarding and company integration needs and design your onboarding experience accordingly.

  5. Build experience with skills-based promotion before trying skills-based hiring. Because of the risks of making a “bad hire,” consider using skill-based promotions. As the report suggests, “Companies should take steps to ensure they are surveying their lower-wage workers for candidates for advancement and that programs to help such workers gain the skills necessary to quantify for such opportunities are available and widely promoted.”

  6. Acknowledge that many jobs do require a college degree. Properly evaluating the needs of each job helps ensure that skills-based hiring is used for the right jobs.

Published on:

Authors: Nancy Hammer

Topics:

MORE NEWS STORIES

Hope for HR’s Reputation: 5 Suggestions for Change
Employee Relations

Hope for HR’s Reputation: 5 Suggestions for Change

June 21, 2024 | News
PWFA Regs Go into Effect Despite Legal Headwinds
Employee Relations

PWFA Regs Go into Effect Despite Legal Headwinds

June 21, 2024 | News
2024 HR Perspectives on the Impact of Global Elections
Employee Relations

2024 HR Perspectives on the Impact of Global Elections

June 21, 2024 | News