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Why Skills-Based Hiring Starts with Your Job Descriptions

Source | | Gopika Maya Santhosh

Skills, not schools. Performance, not pedigree. Results, not requirements. 

These expressions all speak to the goal behind skills-based hiring: when you need to hire someone, you care about what they can do — not where they’ve been. It’s about weighing a candidate’s competencies over their credentials. 

This way of hiring can be a win-win: it extends opportunities to deserving candidates, while giving employers greater access to often-overlooked but highly qualified talent pools. In other words, it can help you build a more diverse workforce while also increasing the odds that you find the right person for the role. 

There are signs that companies are embracing this way of hiring: some high-profile companies have stopped requiring bachelor’s degrees for many roles. And according to new LinkedIn data, over the last year, there’s been a 20% increase in managers hired who don’t have a traditional four-year degree.

  • The share of managers hired without 4-year degrees has increased 20% since 2019 *Insights from LinkedIn

That’s a meaningful improvement, but there’s still a lot more employers could be doing to ensure they are hiring based on a candidate’s abilities. And that starts with one of the first steps in the hiring process: writing the job description. 

Read on to see why skills-based hiring is gaining steam and how rethinking your job descriptions can start your hiring process on the right track. 

The benefits of skills-based hiring: greater diversity and stronger retention

In some cases, employers are probably using the school as a shorthand to prejudge the candidate’s skills. She went to Harvard, so she probably has strong leadership skills. He went to Stanford, so he must be a talented programmer. Education is being used as a proxy for skills, but research shows it’s a poor proxy

While it may be an understandable shortcut, it can also be a short-sighted one. The educational system is far from a perfect meritocracy. Many people are shut out from opportunities just because of where they grew up, went to school, or landed their first job, leaving them with a weaker professional network.  

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