June 3, 2016

4 Powerful Trends Changing the Assessment Industry as We Know It



The assessment industry has been alive and thriving for a long time, and it’s not hard to see why. The idea of using science to understand people and predict what they will do is an enticing one, so it’s no surprise that everyone from the U.S. military to your average retail outlet has made assessments a key component of their operations.

But despite the industry’s long history, the assessment game has not remained static. In fact, there have been plenty of significant changes along the way. For example, as the Internet became an integral piece of society in the ’90s, many assessment purveyors quickly adapted this new technology.

“While it used to be a big deal when a company used technology as a vehicle to deliver assessments, that’s pretty much table stakes these days,” says Lisa Bordinat, senior vice president of assessment science for SkillCheck. “What’s more important now is not simply using technology, but using the right technology – and that’s no mean feat.”

“It’s expensive to maintain an assessment portfolio, especially when you think about the investment in the content versus what people actually buy, as well as the tech you are using,” Bordinat explains. “When technology becomes outdated or obsolete, then it’s a pretty significant effort to update all the tests – to keep them relevant and working effectively on the right platforms.”

According to Bordinat, SkillCheck has been lucky since its relatively recent integration with the Symphony Talent Cloud. By merging with Symphony Talent Cloud, SkillCheck has gained an upper hand over other assessment purveyors, many of which are still struggling to perfect their technologies for the needs of today’s employers. SkillCheck has access to Symphony’s resources and engineering talent, which means it has little trouble when it comes to continuously offering top tools to its users.

“We’ve been able to really invest in our technology and make sure that it not only works, but works well,” she says.

Rapid changes in technology are not the only obstacles that today’s assessment vendors face. The industry – like so many others – is in a state of flux, thanks to a number of different pressures. Bordinat keyed us into four of the biggest trends in the assessment industry today and the ways in which SkillCheck is not only keeping up, but leading the charge toward a faster, more effective, and more user-friendly future.

1. Mobile Recruiting

SkillCheck 1Mobile recruiting has hit every area of the talent acquisition realm, and the assessment industry is no different. Eighty-six percent of candidates use their mobile devices during the job hunt, and 70 percent of candidates want mobile-friendly application processes, according to research from CareerBuilder.

To meet the needs of today’s candidates, assessment companies will have to start building mobile-ready products. Candidates want to be able to complete every step of the hiring process on their mobile phones, and that includes taking assessments.

SkillCheck has been investing in mobile-friendly assessments for a while now, according to Bordinat. In fact, she says that “100 percent of [SkillCheck’s] tests … that are appropriate to take on mobile devices can now be taken on mobile devices.”

Furthermore, Bordinat notes that becoming mobile-friendly means more than just repackaging desktop content for mobile phones – it means creating assessments that work smoothly on all mobile devices.

“We don’t want to just transfer what you see on your desktop to mobile; we want to be mobile-responsive,” Bordinat says. “Our assessments are designed for the device – not just shrunken versions of what you see on a laptop.”

2. The Consumer Candidate

Back in the day, employers saw the recruiting process as their turf.

“The thought process was, ‘If a candidate wants to work for us, they need to do what we tell them to do,'” Bordinat says.

Now, things are very different. The Internet has given candidates unprecedented access to the companies they may (or may not) want to work for. Stories of bad candidate experiences spread like wildfire, which means companies that don’t put candidates first are likely to suffer from lower numbers of quality applicants.

Candidates have become consumers, and employers need to treat them as such – especially when it comes to millennials.

“Employers [should be aware] that millennials want to experience things in easier, faster ways – and that the candidate experience is more important than ever,” Bordinat says. “On our end, it’s our job to make sure our assessments work all the time and that candidates can do them when and where they want.”

Because consumer candidates want more convenient and user-friendly candidate experiences, SkillCheck has placed a heavy emphasis not only on making sure its platform always works, but also on customer support for the times when it doesn’t work.

“If you have a couple million candidates taking tests, you can assume they won’t always work,” Bordinat says. “You have to support companies and candidates when the tests don’t work.”

DockSkillCheck knows that employers don’t want candidates walking away frustrated because the assessment platform isn’t working properly, so it has invested a lot in better tech and candidate-facing customer support. The result?

“We’ve gone from handling a couple thousand support cases a month to, at most, a couple hundred,” Bordinat says. “That means candidates are happier during a stressful time, and organizations are able to recruit without running into any major problems.”

3. Culture-Centric Hiring

Technical skills matter during the hiring process – but they aren’t the be-all, end-all. Over the years, employers have learned that soft skills and cultural fit are just as important as a candidate’s hard skills – if not even more so.

To help employers hire for cultural fit, SkillCheck has expanded its product offerings to include behavioral and cognitive assessments in addition to technical skills assessments.

“Organizations want to hire employees who fit, who align with their cultures and values,” Bordinat says. “You need a broader suite of tools for that – which is what we’ve built. We’re not only assessing the know-how, but also the can-do and the will-do.”

4. Talent Communities

Reactive hiring, in which companies don’t start looking for talent until they need it, is a good way to miss out on top talent. The best candidates aren’t waiting around for positions to open up – they’re already working, or they’re being snatched up as soon as they enter the market.

This is why more and more companies have turned toward more proactive methods of hiring. One major strategy in this realm is building talent communities that allow employers to cultivate long-term talent pipelines from which they can draw whenever hiring needs arise.

To support employers in their efforts to build powerful talent communities, SkillCheck has built a suite of candidate-facing assessments that integrate into Findly’s talent communities, which are also part of the Symphony Talent Cloud. Candidates can use these assessments – for free – to confirm their own skills and show employers that they have what it takes to land the job.

Data from these assessments allows recruiters to carry out more targeted recruiting efforts within their talent communities. For example, if a recruiter needs a candidate with strong typing skills, they can just look at which candidates in the community have scored high enough on the candidate-facing typing assessments and proceed from there.

This data is also far more accurate than other sources of candidate data, Bordinat says.

“Think LinkedIn. When your skills are endorsed, they’re endorsed by your friends,” she explains. “As a recruiter, I know it’s your friends who are endorsing you. So do I know if you really have talent management skills? That becomes questionable.”

On the other hand, SkillCheck’s data comes not from candidates’ friends, but from specific assessments that candidates complete. This leaves no room for inaccuracies. Candidates can’t oversell themselves when they have to back up their claims by completing relevant tests.

These days, Bordinat says, “assessments have become commoditized.” There are hundreds of assessment vendors out there, which means it’s fairly easy to find an assessment that does some of the things you want it to do.

The real challenge, however, is finding an assessment that does all of the things you want – and does them well. This one-stop shop is far more difficult to locate, especially right now, as the talent acquisition landscape is changing before our very eyes.

That’s why a company like SkillCheck stands out: It is not only reacting to the evolution of the talent market, but also helping to drive this evolution in a direction that benefits job seekers and employers alike.

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