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Responding to Today's Challenging Talent Market

Originally published in the April 2022 edition of The West Coach Way

A magnifying glass looking at several icons of people

Many employers are revisiting their hiring practices in response to the shifting talent market and shrinking talent pools. As employers look to new, innovative ways to acquire and retain talent, many are turning to skills-based hiring.


In their recent white paper “The Emerging Degree Reset,” the Burning Glass Institute reports that “evaluating applicants on their demonstrated skills and aptitudes, rather than on their level of academic attainment, can simultaneously help companies address skills shortages while creating more opportunities for Americans aspiring to improve their employment circumstances.”


Skills-Based Hiring as a Leading Practice

In a traditional hiring process an organization screens candidates based on educational attainment and relevant work experience, selections are made based on resume reviews and interviews. This leaves hiring decisions open to bias and noise and keeps organizations from attaining their goals of a fair, objective, and accurate selection process. Consider this:

  • Between 2006 and 2017, 74% of all job postings were jobs where employers typically require a college degree, leaving just 26% of jobs open for the 60% of the workforce without a college degree.

  • Screening by college degree hits minorities particularly hard, eliminating 76 percent of Black adults and 83 percent of Latino adults. Using a skills-based hiring approach, organizations first identify the skills required to perform a job and then select candidates based on their demonstration of these skills. The primary focus is on the candidate’s foundational and occupational competencies, measured through tools such as credentials, certifications, and assessments.

According to research, the focus on effective, relevant and accurate measurements of a candidate's actual skills removes barriers and bias in selection and promotion processes, increasing the size and diversity of the qualified talent pool.


A Framework for Implementing Skills-Based Hiring

A West Michigan Initiative, HireReach, is helping organizations adopt a skills-based model using a process developed at Mercy health West Michigan called evidence-based selection.

Evidence-based selection (EBS) combines best practices in industrial psychology - the study of human behavior in organizations and the workplace - and research on reducing noise and bias to create a consistent, structured and standard selection process that is continuously evaluated.


Adopting a Skills-based Process for your Organization

Since its inception in 2019, over 30 organizations have worked with HireReach to transition to a skills-based hiring model. The five-month HireReach Academy combines learning, tolls and resources, interactions with peer organizations and customized consulting.


"Participating in HireRach has been invaluable in transforming our recruiting process. We have been able to centralize our recruiting process and tackle hiring problems with data instead of feelings. Our organization has a better understanding of what makes a hire a good hire, and how to back that up with data. We see this as a way to create an influx of talent that will help propel Cascade Engineering to future success."

- Cascade Engineering


According to HireReach program manager, Marlene Blomstrom, "Changing the way you hire and promote people is a big change. Many organizations we work with have the desire to move to a skills-based hiring model, but aren't sure how to get started. Others have tried before and gotten lost in the sea of tools and consultants promising to solve all of their talent problems. At HireReach we provide tools and information, but we also provide support throughout the entire process."


The next HireReach Academy begins this Fall. The deadline to apply is July 1. For more information you can follow HireReach on Linkedin. HireReach is recognized by SHRM to offer Professional Development Credits (PDC) for SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP recertification activities. HireReach academy is valid for forty-five (45) PDC for the SHRM-CP or SHRM-SCP.




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