The Rise of Skills-Based Hiring: Why Ditch the Classic Job Description

Employers are in a tough spot. More than four million people in the US have quit their jobs each month this year as the Great Resignation rages on. Nearly one-third of employers say the skills gap has increased from a year ago, and 87% of employers report they have trouble finding qualified talent as a result.

A driving factor of the Great Resignation is that workers are re-thinking where careers fit into their lives. Many are choosing to join the contingent workforce for greater flexibility and work/life balance. Tapping into this growing worker class is becoming one of the best ways to secure in-demand skills. But the competition for these workers is also growing. Employers that take a skills-based approach to hiring will be best positioned to find, attract and retain the qualified workers they need in today’s tight market.

The Shift to Skills-Based Success Profiles

Organizations typically source talent using classic job descriptions. If an employer is looking for a project manager, for example, the job description outlines the project manager’s specific responsibilities. While this overview of the role sets expectations on the needs of the position, it doesn’t always convey the exact skills required to do the job nor what success really looks like.

Instead of including a line item in a job description about managing contracts with vendors and communicating expected deliverables, think about the negotiation skills it takes to be a great project manager. You’ll likely need someone who can be persuasive, who instinctively knows which negotiation styles work in each scenario, and who can collaboratively work with partners to reach common goals. Focusing your search on candidates with those precise skillsets in mind increases the likelihood that you’ll find the right person for the job.

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The Value of Skills-Based Hiring

Employers should use a skills-based strategy to expand access to qualified talent. By focusing on skills instead of looking first at previous job titles, you capture qualified external candidates you might not have otherwise considered. There could also be people within your organization that don’t carry the project manager title but possess the necessary skills and are interested in a new challenge.

Skills-based hiring strategies also boost worker engagement and retention. Putting people in roles based on their skillsets naturally keeps them energized and gives them new experiences. New Flextrack research uncovered 45% of contingent workers have terminated an assignment early due to dissatisfaction. Another 47% say they’d consider quitting an assignment early for a role with greater professional development. Companies that proactively give their workers growth opportunities and prioritize their satisfaction will stand to increase worker commitment.

Flip the Script on Skills Shortages

Finding skills is one thing. Figuring out how much to pay to secure those in-demand skillsets is another. Machine learning capabilities are adding value to employers’ skills-based hiring strategies by predicting the availability and market rates for specific collections of skills in a given geography.

Let’s say you are looking for a project manager with strong negotiation skills and other specific attributes, and you need them to be based on the East Coast. Machine learning technology can tell you the availability and going rate for these specific skillsets in Boston and compare with the market for these skillsets in Providence. You might uncover that you can get the same caliber of skills in the less-competitive Providence market for a better rate — and you know what you need to pay to attract the top talent in this market.

As workers re-evaluate what matters most to them in their jobs, it’s time for employers to rethink the strategies and technologies they’re relying on to build out their workforces. Think about the skills you need to move your priority projects forward and put those first when sourcing new roles. This mindset shift is essential for successfully navigating today’s tight labor market.

Matt Moloney

Matt Moloney
Matt Moloney is VP of enterprise sales and alliances at Flextrack.

Matt Moloney

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