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Strategies for Using a Skills-first Approach to Talent Acquisition

Businesses started to open up when the coronavirus vaccines were rolled out in December 2020 in the US. It was the biggest positive news the country had received since March of the same year. People who lost their jobs can now look for new work.

However, more than half a year later, small businesses struggled to fill out most jobs within their companies. It turned out that there were no qualified workers or applicants, according to the World Economic Forum (We Forum).

The We Forum also revealed that workers in the US are now leaving their jobs in droves in what economists refer to as “The Great Resignation.” Workers started quitting their jobs in April 2021, and that increased as the months progressed. By the end of July, business owners were faced with more than 10 million vacant spots in their workforce. Since then, more than four million employees have already resigned from their work.

The Driving Force

According to the We Forum, several reasons trigger the lack of qualified workers and cause employees to leave their jobs. First, there is the burgeoning skills gap in the US workforce. More than one billion workers need re-skilling, while an estimated 42% require new skills to adapt to the changing workplace and keep up with current work demands.

Second, there are 27 million people in what the Harvard Business School is coining the “hidden workers,” who can work and fill jobs businesses need. They are, unfortunately, untapped and rejected because of faults in the current general hiring processes.

Because of all of this, the main challenges are to replace talent and prevent them from leaving. This presents two problems for business owners today: how they can manage the lack of qualified employees and develop their current workers while hiring new ones more effectively.

To address both dilemmas, the We Forum is suggesting a skills-first approach when acquiring talent. Whether you’re a human resource executive or someone with an organizational role, the tips below can help your company strategically prioritize skills when acquiring new employees and retaining them.

Take Advantage of Technology

Technology is everywhere, including the workplace. It can help your organization reach business goals, which can be applied to talent acquisition and retention while focusing on skills. Products are seamlessly connected today, and they can be used to get work down, drive performance, create career growth opportunities, re-skill, and up-skill. For example, employee management software can match a worker’s skills to what a specific job requires. Other software, meanwhile, can suggest personalized courses where employees can learn new skills.

Although it’s here now with the changing workplace, the future of work will require technology to champion a skills-first strategy. Technology can open up dynamic careers for current and future workers. It can promote engagement and ongoing learning, factors that are essential in employee retention.

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Look Past Higher Education

A skills-based strategy looks beyond an educational diploma. It starts with modifying job descriptions. It should focus on the results, with skills highlighted to show a prospective employee’s abilities. The type of qualifications your company thinks could help workers do their work is no longer effective. In particular, a four-year degree isn’t always relevant to a task.

Diplomas and titles aren’t necessary. There are more effective ways to evaluate the skills of an employee. Employment examinations are one of the most used skills-based approaches when searching for employees with specific hard skills. Evaluations such as coding tests, job auditions, and soft skill assessments are a few examples of skills-first strategies.

You may even ask candidates about how they solve problems at work during the interview process, which can indicate their critical thinking skills. You can also ask them if they know the latest trends related to their profession to gauge their knowledge. For example, you can ask candidates about nano-sponge technology if their expertise involves hydrocarbon remediation.

Encourage Learning

Learning is vital for workers to gain new skills. Your company culture can affect how employees yearn for learning. In the same way, it is indicative of your company’s desire to acquire talent with a more diverse but much-needed skill set.

Does your company support learning? Are there issues with employees who don’t have a degree? What aspects of your company culture promote the acquisition and use of new skills? These questions can help you determine if your company culture affects how a skill-based approach is perceived and accepted in your workplace.

In Summary

A skills-first approach to talent acquisition, development, and retention is promising. It shows that skills are valued over degrees and job histories. This opens up a more diverse talent pool that can hopefully minimize or eliminate employment problems businesses face today.

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