Why You Need a Skills-Based Approach to Hiring and Developing Talent

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If you understand where hiring and development is headed, you know that the focus is increasingly on skills, rather than positions or roles. After all, organizations want to be more agile to accommodate changing needs, and to improve talent-pool diversity. Hiring is also more effective when people are assessed based on their skillsets rather than work histories.

Here’s more about why you need a skills-based approach to hiring and developing talent, and how you can upskill and reskill your existing workforce to suit changing times.

The Issue

The pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of the economy and business environment. Navigating the tumult necessitates a reimagining of hiring practices and employee development.

As it is, many of the jobs lost over the past two years simply won’t come back. Further, many would-be employees in this tight labor market are rethinking their employment futures. On the other hand, there are organizations that are snapping up employees as fast as they can.

As outlooks continue to evolve, the wisest thing for organizations to do is to pivot to a skills-based approach.

The Benefits of a Skills-Based Approach

As we say, organizational agility is a must in this uncertain milieu. Refocusing allows you to take advantage of transferable skills and draw from a more diverse pool.

You can also better streamline hiring and understand the talent you already have.

This approach can also help with recruitment and retention since you’re putting skills ahead of experience, which gives more employees a shot. Also, because you’re contributing to development through upskilling and reskilling, your current talent is more apt to stay.

Ways You Can Improve Your Existing Workforce and Your Hiring Approach

Yes, you must rethink your approach to hiring and developing talent and that includes upskilling and reskilling your current workforce. The following are ways to pull off a skills-based approach.

Back Your People’s Career Changes

The pandemic has accelerated what has been a growing trend over the last few years to upskill existing talent in preparation for future changes. Some organizations have poured millions into preparing their people for changing work. Look at JPMorgan, which recently earmarked $600 million to upskill its workforce. Then there’s PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is investing a whopping $3 billion in upskilling its 275,000 employees over the next three years or so to meet changing business priorities.

If a structured learning program is not doable, see whether managers can learn what other parts of the organization employees wish to know about and assist them in putting together cross-functional get-togethers and projects. Doing so demonstrates you’re invested in their future. It also shows that you’re capable of considering alternate routes for career growth.

Remember that research shows that employers who present solid opportunities to learn and grow have employees who are nearly three times more likely to be engaged. The creation of efforts that pinpoint and mitigate skill gaps girds you against future disruptions, and makes your people feel more secure.

Provide Ongoing Education

A recent Glint study found that 97 percent of employees wish to enhance or, at minimum, continue the amount of time they spend on learning. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, opportunities to learn and grow have become the most powerful influencer of work culture.

To help promote such a culture, employees should be nudged to set aside time each week or month for learning. That will be even more effective if managers have learning time, too. To boost employee participation, you may even want to offer some form of rewards.

It can sometimes be challenging to fit in learning with everyday job demands but remember that such an investment will help your employees’ careers as well as your organization. You’ll also be able to lend guidance to their growth plans.

Focus on Skills When Hiring

In 2020, LinkedIn experienced a 21 percent jump in U.S. job postings that underscore skills and responsibilities, as opposed to requirements and qualifications. What’s more, the number of openings that don’t call for a degree rose by 40 percent that year compared to 2019.

You can begin to shift the focus at your organization by reconsidering your job descriptions, emphasizing the results you want instead of the qualifications you think can make them happen. This way, you’re getting straight to the point and eliminating impediments such as a four-year degree or extensive experience.  

While remaining focused on skills, you can always conduct tests and use the interview process to fill in any blanks and even discuss learning commitments, which may give you an edge on the competition. According to a LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 94 percent of employees said they’d remain with an organization longer if it invested in their futures.

To get in front of the future of hiring and development, you do need to adopt a skills-based approach. Organizations that remain mired in obsolete mindsets will be left behind when it comes to recruitment and retention.

If you need help sharpening and tailoring your approach, we recommend the global consulting firm Mercer, which can guide your transformation. 

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