Skills-based hiring: Where to start and how to be successful

We outline some easy places to begin with skills-based hiring: re-evaluate job descriptions, promote internally, offer upskilling and reskilling, focus on veterans, and more. See how Adecco can help you make those changes.

5 minutes

January 23, 2024 Adecco

Skills-based hiring is becoming a bigger and buzzier trend, and there are plenty of reasons why. It can improve retention and open up your potential talent pool to the often overlooked workers, including those without a college degree.

A skills-based approach can also create positive internal changes within your organization as well. When you recognize workers based on their skill sets and performance, they report feeling more seen and more valued.

Graphic: Deloitte survey on skills-based organizations 107% more likely to place talent effectively 98% more likely to have a reputation as a great place to grow and develop 98% more likely to retain high performers

What is skills-based hiring?

While traditional job postings often include specific education requirements or a certain number of years’ experience, skills-based hiring focuses on assessing candidates based on their skill sets and abilities.

That means hiring managers start by identifying the key skills needed for the role – and make hiring decisions by that metric.

These skills-based hiring strategies create opportunities for candidates with diverse backgrounds and talents, who bring different perspectives and experiences to the table. By focusing on these abilities, employers can build teams rooted in innovation and adaptability.

Below, we discuss where to start implementing skills-based hiring as an employer or hiring manager.

Re-evaluate job descriptions

While many employers require a diploma for their new hires, most don’t Stop and ask if that credential is actually necessary for a successful job candidate.

In its most recent impact report, OneTen estimates that 4 million jobs can be reimagined to cut a four-year college requirement.

Instead of focusing on the right degree or certification, focus on articulating the specific skills, competencies, and outcomes required for a position. This gives hiring managers targeted recruitment guidelines and candidates a better understanding of the job.

Embrace skills-based promotion

According to our most recent Global Workforce of the Future research, one of the top three reasons workers quit was that their profession/career was not progressing in their current workplace.

So, consider another great starting point: Apply a skills-based rubric to promoting workers and filling roles internally. Look at your current team and see if a top performer’s career has stalled because they don’t meet certain education or experience requirements.

Recognizing successful employees can improve retention and show you have a strong commitment to rewarding hard work.

Create upskilling opportunities

Upskilling plays a pivotal role in skills-based hiring strategy. It bridges the gap between the technical skills demanded by a role and the valuable ones job candidates already have.

So ask, are there any requirements that are easy to train for internally – or can be learned through a simple mentorship program?

Creating upskilling opportunities for hard-to-find skill sets can make recruiting easier. Plus, hiring employees who are ready for a challenge can help foster a strong learning culture.

Focus on veterans

We’ve spoken a lot about the challenges veterans face during the job search process. Often they have the technical and softs skills to thrive in the workforce, but their resumes and certifications don’t line up with standard job requirements.

Your transition to skills-based hiring can begin by targeting veteran talent whose careers don’t line up with the rest of the workforce.  

Resume bias has a huge impact on veterans, but there are easy ways for employers to avoid it. In addition to downloading our "Hiring veterans without four-year degrees" white paper, we  suggest interviewers and hiring managers start with O*NET, a free resource to look up military job titles and cross-reference them with the civilian equivalents.

Time to change up your hiring strategy

We’re committed to building a more inclusive workforce and creating more opportunities for overlooked talent.

That’s why we partner with various groups and organization  through The Adecco Group US Foundation to tackle the obstacles holding back underrepresented populations from high-paying jobs.

We also work closely with The Adecco Group Military Alliance to support veterans and military spouses in their job search, and we provide our active associates access to the Aspire Academy for free online upskilling and reskilling courses.

There’s plenty to discuss before, during, and after changing to a more innovative hiring strategy. That’s why it’s smart to partner with an agency with decades of experience, the latest market research tools and access to cost-effective or free upskilling programs. Contact us today to learn how we can help.