Published: Oct 7, 2021Time to read: 6mins Category: Recruitment

3 Ways to Use Skills-Based Recruiting to Improve Retention

Are you one of the many organizations taking longer to hire at greater cost because of a combination of degree inflation and our current candidate’s market? Skills-based hiring may be the solution not just to your hiring problems, but a whole raft of the day’s big talent issues.

Even before our workforces were shaken up in early 2020, tech giants Google and Apple had already recognized the need to shift to skills-based hiring. The idea that degrees may be “a bad proxy for critical skills” has increasingly gained credibility—nonetheless, many leaders are hesitant to go all-in on the alternative, skills-based approach.

This reluctance comes from a lack of knowledge, processes, and HR tech needed to ensure success. However, it could be the solution to a range of problems faced by your HR, L&D, and recruitment professionals. Through the needs of each of these groups, you’ll find three key ways to use skills-based recruiting to solve your retention woes.

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Hiring the best candidate is only possible when you know who they are and/or where to find them. Internal recruiting can be easier for your hiring teams if they have the right levels of visibility. However, if they can’t source internal candidates with the necessary skills for an open role, how can they include them in a talent pipeline?

1) Start With Your Talent Mobility Practices

Recent data from LinkedIn shows that while overall hiring was down toward the end of 2020, internal hiring saw an increase of 20% (and it continues to remain steady). While we’re excited to see this increase, many companies could benefit from a new approach to internal recruiting and mobility. Plus, it’s the perfect way to introduce different hiring practices within your organization.

Here’s where it can get tricky for companies without the right technology. Hiring the best candidate is only possible when you know who they are and/or where to find them. Internal recruiting can be easier for your hiring teams if they have the right levels of visibility. However, if they can’t source internal candidates with the necessary skills for an open role, how can they include them in a talent pipeline?

This means the position goes unfilled for longer, the business needs aren’t met, and employees who want to grow with the company may miss out on their chance to do so—and could then leave! An efficient talent mobility program will give hiring managers more ways to source candidates, increase employee retention, and fill critical skills gaps. It’s also like a big billboard, signaling to external candidates that your organization values investing in its employees.

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Ultimately, your best talent is interested in more than just a paycheck. They’re looking for their next opportunity to gain skills that can be used in another role that gives them purpose. Whether that role is at your company or not is up to you!

2) Focus on Retaining and Reskilling Top Talent

Nearly every industry has had its ups and downs over the last few years. But some have had more downs than others. For instance, the hospitality and travel industries were hit hard by business closures and decreased travel/outings due to safety restrictions. In response, large corporations had massive layoffs and put hiring freezes in place.

Now, these same industries are struggling to hire new employees while also retaining existing ones. What’s worse is many of those jobs simply won’t return to the marketplace, or, the workers who previously held the roles have switched occupations entirely. Additionally, labor shortages are also a growing concern for major corporations. In a recent survey of CFOs at U.S. companies, 95% said it’s difficult to hire workers for open positions right now. This is up from 18% who said that it was harder in the first quarter of 2021. Remember: many people (across all industries) are simply burnt out. A human approach and flexibility can go a long way during these times, especially as employees dip their toes back into a ‘new normal’.

While LinkedIn data shows that employees stayed 41% longer at companies that value internal mobility, it’s going to take much more than that. Retention rates in hard-hit industries might continue to decrease if employers aren’t focused on what matters right now. That is, a larger emphasis on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) and a clearer lens on the employee experience.

Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with retaining employees is continuing education and training opportunities in the workplace. This can be in the form of reskilling via stretch projects, new L&D programs, or even having employees work cross-functionally in order to develop new skills or competencies. Reskilling and upskilling efforts were important for companies before the pandemic and should continue as AI and automation take hold across global companies.

Ultimately, your best talent is interested in more than just a paycheck. They’re looking for their next opportunity to gain skills that can be used in another role that gives them purpose.

Whether that role is at your company or not is up to you!

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Before you start recruiting for skills, be sure you have alignment and collaboration across every business function. Your talent acquisition, talent management, learning teams, and compensation executives will all need to join the effort for it to be effective.

3) Start Recruiting for Skills

Whether you’re focused on recruiting internal or external candidates (it should be both, really!), loosening rigid degree requirements is the first step. Instead of adding it as a requirement on your job posting, consider adding it as a ‘preferred’ qualification. This can be in addition to things like:

  • Certifications
  • On-the-job training received
  • Job experience
  • Job performance
  • Soft skills
  • In-demand skills or competencies to fill mission-critical roles at your organization

If you’re interested in reviewing an existing model for skills-based hiring, Google does a great job outlining how it hires. Proof aside, getting buy-in from every stakeholder in your organization will be difficult. That’s why the shift will require data, the right HR tools, and open internal communication that happens often. When you have more skills discussions more often, you’re better prepared to change old behaviors and usher in the new.

Don’t forget, recruitment is just the first impression a candidate will have about your company. Before you start recruiting for skills, be sure you have alignment and collaboration across every business function. Your talent acquisition, talent management, learning teams, and compensation executives will all need to join the effort for it to be effective.

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Further Nuggets of Skills-Based Hiring Wisdom Await...

You have just read an extract from our ebook, ‘Don’t Reinvent the Wheel, Shift It! How a Skills-Based Workforce Improves Recruitment, DE&I, and Innovation’. Download your copy today to dig into how skills-based recruiting is helping organizations widen candidate pools, narrow skills gaps, and build fairer, more open environments.

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