The importance of skills-based hiring

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Put our talent to work

I was recently privileged to become a founding member of the Rework America Task Force. Part of the Markle Foundation, this group seeks to transform our labor market from one solely focused on traditional credentials like degrees and work history, to one rooted in the skills needed for the jobs of the 21st century.

As we continue to progress into a post-industrial economy, we must transform how we discover talent. Using big data and/or artificial intelligence to create a skills-based hiring model will give all Americans equal opportunity for employment in the types of digital jobs that will power our economy.

Skills-based hiring is in opposition to the resume-based hiring model that we’ve used for the past 100+ years. As we’ve come to discover, resumes have no statistically relevant correlation to job outcomes or success. In fact, research shows that using resumes as the basis for hiring decisions actually increases implicit bias and disadvantages those without traditional markers of societal success (education, previous job experience, wealth, social networks).

Close-up of hands shaking. Business people greeting with handshake

Shifting from resumes to skills-based hiring won’t be easy. It forces us to challenge deeply held beliefs on what signals the potential for success. But making the shift opens the career funnel to groups currently left out of the job market. It gives them a level playing field to prove that they can do the job.

It will also improve outcomes for business. As we’ve seen at Catalyte, skill-based teams outperform traditionally sourced teams. With more diverse backgrounds, our teams bring experience to problem solving and innovation that more homogeneous teams lack. We see solutions that aren’t even on others radar.

Implementing skills-based hiring will make companies more resilient. By finding people who you know have the capacity to do the immediate task, and who have the innate ability to grow and expand into other roles, you get a workforce that can weather downtimes. And by investing in your employees, you grow loyalty and retention. These were common practices for Fortune 500 companies for decades. It’s time to revive them.

Skills-based hiring eliminates the need for “just-in-time” hiring and the premium costs associated with it. You pay extra when you hire at the last minute and select candidates based on traditional success markers.

If we don’t evolve with our technology capabilities to hire based on skills, we risk creating an even more stratified, polarized and fractured society/economy. With talent being equally distributed, we need to create ways to find that talent and have it power our technological innovations.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that skills-based hiring is a linchpin to reawakening the American Dream. It opens the career door to those who have been left out. We’re just at the beginning of this process, but if Catalyte is any indication, the potential is real and it can make a difference in the lives of workers and the success of businesses right now.

Hear more thoughts on skills-based hiring in this episode of the Sourcing for Innovation podcast.


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