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Improve Diversity & Equity, With Skills-Based Hiring

At its core, skills-first hiring is about making better and fairer decisions when it comes to recruiting. Today, more and more businesses are seeing the value in assessing people based on what truly matters: the skills (and potential skills) they bring to the work. 

The skills-based approach acknowledges that talent comes in many forms… and that traditional hiring criteria may inadvertently exclude qualified individuals who lack specific degrees, but possess the necessary skills.

According to LinkedIn, in jobs where women are underrepresented, a skills-first approach to hiring can increase the proportion of women in candidate pools by 24% more than it would for men. It can also increase candidate pools for Gen Z workers by over 10x.

46% of our respondents in Beamery’s Navigating The Changing Talent Landscape study felt that a key benefit of skills-first hiring was that it expands their talent pool, and makes the pipeline more inclusive. 

What is skills-based hiring? 🤔

To hire based on skills means rethinking how you define jobs (describing them in terms of their component skills) and looking at candidates in the same way: through the lens of what they are able to do, rather than where they studied, where they worked, who they know, or simply previous job titles. 

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By taking a skills-first approach, you remove the subconscious (or conscious) bias that inevitably exists inside a company. In a study by Deloitte, 80% of business executives said making decisions about hiring, pay, promotions, succession, and deployment based on people’s skills (rather than their job history, tenure in the job, or network) would reduce bias and improve fairness.

Businesses increasingly understand that by focusing only on qualifications and experience, they may be missing out on candidates – including existing employees – who already have most of the necessary skills to do the job. 

Luckily, technology has emerged that allows employers to map skills (between people and roles) with a granularity, consistency and accuracy that’s simply not been possible before.

How does skills-first hiring improve diversity? 💜

By shifting the focus from degrees to skills, organizations can create a more level playing field for candidates from diverse backgrounds. 

Objective criteria 

Skills-based hiring means that all candidates are considered equally as long as they have the skills or the capability to easily learn the skills.

Assessments are made on the objective basis of the skills someone has – and these may go beyond those listed on one’s resume. With explainable AI, platforms like Beamery are able to infer skills that someone has (or could learn), and give recruiters a sense of the ‘adjacent’ skills a candidate possesses. 

Widening your pools by considering potential, as well as people’s existing skills, will undoubtedly have a further positive impact on representation. This means you won’t inadvertently overlook talent that could, with the right training, make a fantastic contribution in at least one area of your business.

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Smart recommendations  

Using this objective criteria – the common language of ‘skills’ – as a basis for recruitment practices could wind up being pretty manual. But luckily there are ways to view shortlists of relevant, skilled candidates, from the moment you design a vacancy.

Consider how your Talent CRM integrates with your other HR systems: do you have your talent pool in one database? Can you query it based on the skills you need? Is the data rich enough, and normalized? With the right framework and data infrastructure, building skills-first hiring processes becomes a cinch.  

AI can work with this data to showcase ‘suggestions’ of people that are ideal for a role – but may otherwise have been overlooked – based on the shared understanding of the skills they have, and the skills needed. 

While humans are kept ‘in the loop’ to help assess the recommendations, ethical AI speeds up and democratizes a range of HR processes.

Keen to boost diversity (and quality of hire) at scale? Speak to Beamery. 

Personalized talent experiences

And it’s not just recruiters who can see suitable candidates, based on skills matching. Now, it’s possible to surface roles to candidates themselves, based on the information they provide – personalizing the careers site (and nurture) experience, but also helping to encourage applications from people and communities who would previously have been deterred. 

It’s one thing removing degree requirements from your job listings. But targeting people with the relevant skills, who perhaps lack confidence in applying, is the next step to ensuring more diverse applicants, and a more diverse workforce. 

Redefining work

By embracing a skills-based approach, organizations must rethink how work is defined and assigned within the company. This means evaluating tasks and responsibilities in a fairer way, including whether an employee works full-time or part-time. 

When we look at work through the lens of skills, and break it down into component tasks, we open up yet more opportunities for diverse and underrepresented communities.

Consider the woman who perhaps has caring responsibilities, and has been out of paid employment for several years. When she joins your brand’s Talent Portal, she is shown a role that she could do – but she would not have applied for, due to her fears that she lacked the necessary qualifications. Firstly, it matches many of her skills (with an understanding that certain elements would be taught on the job). Secondly, it comes with the option of part-time or flexible hours – something she listed as a preference. 

This not only opens the door to a more diverse applicant pool, but makes the application and onboarding experience all the more inclusive. 

By focusing on skills, organizations can move the needle in terms of more diverse hiring – and beyond. They can ensure that every employee is given opportunities that align with their abilities and potential, and that human bias is reduced in the decision-making process.

Learn more about implementing skills-based hiring with Beamery.