Skills based hiring - the smart way to hire

Skills based hiring. The smart way to hire

There’s a lot for an employer to consider when hiring the right candidate for a skilled position. For many years, skills based hiring took a back seat while conventional thinking put education at the top of the list of considerations. However, education based hiring ruled out a significant number of candidates. Roles were left unfilled and skilled people remained unemployed.

Then the thinking slowly shifted: you needed time on the job in order to learn how to do the job. And so came about the shift from education based hiring to experience based hiring and with it, a new set of challenges for prospective employees. Now in order to get a good job you were expected to not only have a degree or qualification of some sort, but a few years’ experience under your belt as well which became a further unnecessary barrier to in-demand jobs.

Enter a global pandemic and while many companies have had to let staff go, others are expanding. New sectors, such as tech and digital, are booming, and employers who lean too heavily on education and experience based hiring will find themselves excluding top talent just because they don’t have degrees or enough industry experience.

This has led to a rise in what is known as skills based hiring

Skills based hiring is an approach which allows employers to focus on the specific skill requirements needed for a specific job or position. It helps employers to assess candidates based on their skill set, rather than their education or experience qualifications, meaning employers can quickly and accurately identify the candidates who fit their needs from a much broader pool of potential talent.

One of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters, EY, dropped its degree classification threshold for graduate recruitment. Instead they use numerical tests and online “strength” assessments to assess the potential of applicants. (Source: Times Higher Education)

In short, jobs get filled faster and with the best possible talent.

Here are some reasons to embrace skills-based hiring:

Larger talent pool

Too often the deck is stacked against candidates who don’t have a tertiary education, despite their numerous skills gained in their area of specialty. For example, an employer seeking a learning designer might have in the past only considered someone with a tertiary qualification in education. Whereas they can now cast their net wider and draw from a pool of highly skilled candidates who would have previously been discounted due to their lack of tertiary education, but have garnered their skills in multiple fields over numerous contracts or positions.

Increased diversity

Hiring for skills can help an organisation grow a diverse workforce.  “If you’re limiting hiring to people with college degrees, we know minorities are underrepresented. In certain fields, we know women degree-holders are underrepresented,” says Beth Cobert, CEO of Skillful.   In a country like South Africa, hiring for skills can help youths without a tertiary education that have gained digital skills via free online courses and videos to be considered for a job.

Ability to combine roles

In growing SMEs, where there are not yet full departments for each job function, employees often have to take on tasks which are out of the norm for a specific role. For these jobs,  one can hire someone with a combined set of skills. For example, writing with design, bookkeeping with payroll or coding with software sales. Companies can save costs as the employee splits their hours utilising their multiple skill sets to fulfill more than one traditional role.

Higher employee retention and happier staff

Research shows employees hired for skills are ‘stickier’ than employees hired based on qualification alone. A positive alignment to personal key skills and job description means happier, loyal and more engaged employees. Being able to use intrinsic strengths and diverse skills gained gives the employee a greater sense of purpose in their work.

Skills based hiring has many benefits for both employer and candidate. It’s an important consideration to help companies to fill top, skilled positions with the top, skilled talent.


RecruitMyMom is an award-winning online recruitment site specialising in skilled workers, on-demand. Post a job. It’s free – pay only on success.

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