Air Date

October 4, 2023


What Is Skills-Based Hiring?

Dane Linn, senior vice president of Business Roundtable, began by offering a definition of skills-based hiring.

“We're … looking at the range of skills that are essential to the success of the job, and how that gets clearly articulated in the job description,” he said. “We need companies to step back and ask, ‘What does it take to be successful [at every level of the company]?”

According to Clay Lord, director of foundation programs at SHRM, the next step is to empower companies — particularly small and midsize businesses — to improve the hiring process.

“There’s a lot of opportunity… [to] utilize technologies and training in order to improve the kind of opportunities for hiring managers, HR professionals, and executives to pull talent from a broader pool,” Lord added.

Employers Must Evaluate Alternative Skill Sets for Non-Traditional Candidates

Vicki Greene, CEO and president of GED Testing Service, pointed out that many potential employees have untraditional educational backgrounds.

“Forty million adults in the U.S. right now [are] without a high school diploma,” she noted. “Too often, we try to fit everyone into the same box … the degree might not be for everyone.”Andy Tonsing, vice president of postsecondary education at Stand Together, outlined how companies can be more helpful to untraditional prospective employees in the hiring process.

“If we're going to get rid of degree requirements, we need something to filter [candidates],” Tonsing explained. “[Employers can] connect people based upon their aptitudes.”Lord noted that advanced degrees do not always equate to success on the job.

“When someone looks for a degree, they are making all sorts of assumptions about what that degree has provided to that person,” observed Lord. “The degree is a proxy for… your ability to work with others… and to have the grit and drive to succeed over time. That's not confined to people with degrees.”

Skills-Based Hiring Comes With Challenges

In addition to overworked HR departments with limited time to review large batches of candidates, skills-based hiring also requires employers to overcome implicit bias.

“When … [a candidate] doesn't have a degree, I think every one of us is going to wonder… why,” said Greene. “We have to… stop looking at this piece of paper and start looking at [candidates] as a human.”

Additionally, legal barriers cause challenges in recruiting and attracting a diverse talent pool.

“We have 80 million people in this country who have a criminal record,” said Linn. “[So] we have a quarter of the incarcerated population who can't find work.”