YURPO's guide to adopting skills-based hiring practices. Learn why career pathways and upskilling are the greatest ways to attract talent.

Skills-Based Hiring Guide

How to Champion Skills-Based Hiring

As a talent acquisition decision maker, you are contending with consistently low unemployment and ongoing wars for talent. At the same time, you are committed to building a more diverse and inclusive workforce. Not only is it the right thing to do, doing so will give your organization a competitive edge.

What if you could create a more inclusive workforce while increasing your qualified early and mid-career talent pool? You can, beginning with shifting how you recruit and hire with a skills-first mindset.

Why companies should prioritize skills-based hiring

The rapid acceleration of adding bachelor’s degrees as minimum education requirements, even for jobs that had not materially changed, dates back to the Great Recession. Today, this means that more than 60% of the U.S. workforce who lack four-year college degrees are automatically eliminated from talent searches. This historical practice excludes a disproportionate number of skilled and qualified Black and Latino candidates who could solve your hiring challenges with skills and experience they’ve gained through alternative paths. 

Forward-thinking employers recognize that a change is required, one that shifts the hiring focus from degrees to skills. In fact, skills-based hiring was up more than 60% in 2021. Bank of America, General Motors, Google, and IBM are just a few corporations that have removed college degree requirements from jobs, focusing instead on job-related skills, experience, and even personality traits.

Skills-based hiring is your key to accessing a highly motivated, qualified, yet untapped talent pool. Benefits of a skills-based hiring and recruitment process include:

  1. Wider and more diverse talent pool
  2. Accelerated time-to-hire for in-demand roles
  3. Greater diversity in your workforce 
  4. Improved marketplace reputation 
  5. Social impact on the workforce at large

This skills-based hiring guide will help you get started.

Start by writing more inclusive job descriptions and job postings

Your job description, while meant for internal purposes, marks the beginning of the inclusive experience you create for candidates. It serves as the foundation for the talent-facing job posting. 

Inclusive job postings are written to appeal to underrepresented talent, which means being intentional and mindful about addressing unconscious bias. You can do this by focusing on skills and competencies over degree and pedigree. Below are some best practices to follow:

  • Remove gender-specific actions verbs and language.
    • For example, terms such as “work hard, play hard” are more often associated with male traits. Avoid descriptors that may be interpreted as biased, discriminatory, or demeaning by implying that one sex or social gender is the norm.
  • Include trainable job skills.
    • Include skills that are accessible with experience in a relevant job or training program instead of a formal college.
  • Benchmark duties specifically aligned with the role itself versus generalized statements.
    • For example, if you include ‘strong verbal skills’ in your job posting when average skills might be fine for the position, you will lose out on candidates who feel they aren’t up to par. Instead, revise the posting to read, ‘building communication skills.’
  • Reassess your job description requirements.
    • Determine if skills can replace credentials.
  • Steer clear of time-based experience,
    • In most cases, you’re looking for quality, not quantity. Replace length of time in a role or years of experience with a skill.
  • Open the door to ‘equivalent experience.’
    • This allows applicants to fill in additional information, often pulled from unique and relevant personal experiences.

Attract talent with career pathways and upskilling opportunities

One of the best strategies for attracting talent is to offer career pathways and upskilling opportunities. According to Gallup, 65% of U.S. workers believe employer-provided upskilling is very important when evaluating a new job opportunity. Half of Americans would switch to a new job if it offered skills training.

On-the-job training and work-based learning (WBL) programs, such as apprenticeships, can help your company meet its hiring needs, create career pathways for your talent, and build a more inclusive workforce in a socially responsible way.

Here’s how to up your game when it comes to WBL and upskilling: 

  • Identify skills gaps. Determine your workforce skills gaps between entry- and mid-level roles.
  • Address gaps with training. Discuss how you can train in-house or partner with a training provider to build those specific skills.
  • Build career pathways that require upskilling. Promote based on objective, skills-based milestones that build equity and inclusivity.
  • Identify internal champions and mentors. You’ll need them to provide you with internal support for WBL programs and to serve as resources for new hires and early career talent.
  • Develop free workshops for all employees. Focus on professional development and other soft skills that promote a healthy culture.
  • Bake upskilling into corporate culture. Build upskilling expectations into job requirements, performance reviews, and promotional considerations.
  • Create a culture of self-development and corporate-supported development. Offer tuition reimbursement for professional certifications and build time into work schedules for upskilling.
  • Check your state’s offerings. Subsidies and tax credits often are available for registered apprenticeships, internships, and even upskilling courses.
  • Partner up. Lean on the expertise, networks, and resources of industry-proven, turnkey WBL, training, and upskilling programs. For example, a mission-oriented talent placement partner will support your talent via on-the-job coaching, access to social assistance resources, and community-building. 

The best WBL programs offer talent the opportunity to earn family-sustaining wages while learning critical on-the-job skills. The same goes for the best talent training and upskilling programs, which will support your talent holistically. At the same time, your organization benefits by building new talent pipelines, meeting hiring demands, increasing retention, and expanding organizational diversity. 

Adopt skills-based hiring practices now

The skills gap is estimated to cost the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion between 2019 and 2029. Don’t let your organization pay the price. If you haven’t yet embraced skills-based hiring, now is the time. Tools such as Gender Decoder, Check My Job, and Text Analysis will help ensure job descriptions are inclusive.  And, a mission-oriented talent placement partner will help ensure your entry and mid-level talent has access to ongoing career development and upskilling opportunities. 

For example, as a global partner of IBM SkillsBuild, YUPRO has created extensive learning plans – available to our entire talent community – in areas such as cybersecurity, financial services, customer support, and software development. We can develop customized learning plans specific to your talents’ needs. 

If you’d like to discuss your transition to a skills-based hiring program, reach out at partnerwithus@yupro.com. We’d love to hear from you.