Is a skills-based approach the next great move in hiring?

by Pranav Ramesh
April 20, 2022

For decades, especially in the US, a four-year degree from a college or university was considered mandatory on the path to established life-long success as a working adult. But several events of the last few years, led in large part by the pandemic, have changed the landscape of higher education. Significant decreases in state funding for higher education, increased tuition costs, and a quick switch to all virtual learning led many students, or prospective students, to reconsider the value of a four-year degree.

Instead, more people are opting to learn skills and earn certifications to better their chances of employment, especially in tech and IT fields. This has changed the game for employers and employees alike and has had a dramatic effect on hiring. As more focus shifts away from the importance and value placed on four-year degrees, employers have had to adjust their hiring practices.

Employers need to adapt quickly to this shift. Finding talent and hiring needs to happen at a more rapid pace than ever, as job seekers are likely to receive multiple offers within a short time frame.

How can employers work within these new hiring parameters to ensure they’re finding and landing the best talent to push their companies forward? Skill-based hiring might be the solution many companies are searching for. This approach to talent acquisition takes into consideration a candidate’s skillset more so than their educational background. Employers using this technique can assess a candidate’s skills regardless of whether they have a four-year degree or not. Read on to see if skill-based hiring is a viable option to help your company keep pace with an aggressive hiring market in these rapidly changing times.

Benefits of a skill-based approach to hiring

Allowing your company to pivot and become more flexible by integrating a skill-based approach to hiring can offer the opportunity to explore candidates that might have been traditionally passed over due to not meeting the educational requirement of certain jobs. The huge advantage of re-writing job ads to eliminate specific education requirements is obvious. Suddenly, the candidate pool becomes much larger and accessible to the recruiter or employer. Many more candidates are now available for interviews and technical skill assessments.

Additionally, recruiters have many more tools at their disposal now to find the best talent for their open requisitions. Recruitment software powered by AI, like Gabi, assists recruiters greatly in every step of the recruitment process, including the ability to schedule and review technical assessments right within the platform and share those results within Gabi.

Another considerable benefit to skill-based hiring is the opportunity to remove barriers to entry, which could result in a more diverse workforce. Affording college and jumping through all the hoops of FAFSA forms or student loans can be a serious challenge, and deterrent, for learners from underrepresented backgrounds. But the barriers to entry are often lower and less expensive to earn a certification in IT or to learn a programming language on their own. The benefits of bringing on a diversity of backgrounds to your team are many as studies prove again and again.

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The importance of upskilling your current workforce

While thinking about skill-based hiring is important when bringing in new talent through hiring, it is also crucial to keep your current team motivated and agile. If employees aren’t feeling engaged and appreciated at their jobs now, they’re more likely than ever to leave their current roles in search of greener pastures.

Insurance giant Allstate has taken a serious approach to ensure current employees are feeling included and valued. The company offers several career development opportunities to help employees update their skills or develop new ones entirely. For example, Allstate offers educational support in the form of tuition assistance or student loan repayment and ongoing training opportunities that provide feedback and promote internal advancement. It also offers a program called Talent Share designed to give employees access to short-term projects and different developmental experiences. Talent Share allows an employee to remain with their current department while exploring other career paths on different teams across the company.

Of course, for many positions, the educational requirement of a four-year degree may still be non-negotiable. We can’t forget that while learning a particular skill set or certification can help an individual learn some new competencies, other advantages come with candidates who have earned a college degree. For example, skills that are stressed in a liberal arts education while earning a four-year degree, such as critical thinking and the ability to speak and write professionally, are still highly sought after by most employers today.

But many companies are already moving towards skill-based hiring for entry-level roles and are seeing excellent results for these types of positions. Once thought to be a necessity for a successful career, a college degree is starting to become secondary to certain skillsets, especially in the IT and tech sectors. This shift is changing the hiring game for recruiters, candidates, and employers. Weigh in with your company’s own experiences with skill-based hiring in the comments section below.


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