Finding It Hard to Attract Top Talent in a Pandemic, More Hiring Managers Adopt a Skills-Based Approach to Recruiting

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The unpredictable trajectory of the global coronavirus pandemic has had a serious impact on every area of company operations. Within the HR industry, the traditional hiring practices companies have long relied on were totally upended.

At the outset, many hiring managers believed the high unemployment rate caused by the pandemic would make it easier to attract top talent. In fact, many industries have experienced the opposite. Leaping into a new job always carries a measure of risk, but in the current economic climate, top candidates have been even more hesitant to give up relative job security for a new venture. That has left a number of organizations struggling to fill critical internal gaps.

As long as COVID-19’s effects persist — and likely into the future — employers will need to adjust their tactics to a transformed talent market. Luckily, HR teams have an opportunity right now to explore new, more effective ways to recruit and hire the best talent for open roles.

Review Your Organization’s Current Positions

A manager’s first instinct when hiring might be to file a new job requisition, but there is good reason to hold off. A careful evaluation of a company’s existing roles and the web of interactions between them can highlight opportunities to restructure based on current needs. Your operations have probably changed from a year or even six months ago. As your company evolves, so should your roles. Analyze your organization’s positions regularly to understand how you can adjust them to better align with new business objectives.

Adopt a Skills-Based Mindset

As you identify the positions you need to fill, review the job descriptions through a skills-based lens. Most of the time, hiring managers don’t really need candidates with exactly 10 years of experience or a particular college degree. What really matters is whether a candidate has the skills to do the job.

Increasingly, hiring managers are abandoning outdated proxies for future performance — like a specific degree or experience level — and choosing to focus on skills instead. There’s a wealth of candidate information now available to recruiters and employers, and this information can yield valuable insights into a candidate’s specific abilities.

Skills can be acquired from on-the-job experience, a boot camp, professional development classes, online certifications, and plenty of other avenues. By keeping an open mind about alternative means of skills development, you can use a skills-based approach to find highly qualified candidates you might otherwise miss out on in the hiring process.

Check out the latest issue of Magazine for more career advice and recruiting trends:

Explore Your Internal Talent Pool

In a rush to launch an outside search, hiring managers sometimes inadvertently overlook their internal talent pools. It’s easy to forget that employee you hired for a certain job years ago has sharpened their skills and developed new competencies in the interim, both through their job and from their own desire for growth. Before looking outside, evaluate your existing team’s competencies. You might find that you already have the perfect fit for a new role.

Moving employees into new roles helps cultivate top talent (without an expensive hiring process) and improves employee retention and satisfaction. When employees see a path forward, they plan around it by pursuing professional development and cultivating new skills. If you’re concerned about an employee’s satisfaction with a new role, offer it on a trial basis. Both parties start with a small commitment and make it permanent only if the employee and employer see value in doing so. You end up with more engaged and satisfied employees while filling gaps in your team without spending time, energy, and money on an external search.

Deploy Data in Your Hiring Process

Hiring is an investment, and serious time and resources go into recruiting and hiring the best candidates. No one wants to find out six months down the line that a new hire can’t perform as expected. That’s why data matters in the hiring process.

Verifiable digital badges are a relatively new approach to documenting a candidate’s skills. Instead of taking their word for it, companies can verify a candidate’s technical and soft skills through a trusted digital credential provider. In short, digital credentials offer hiring managers a contextualized, data-driven approach to determining which candidates will perform best in a given role.

COVID-19 has reminded us all of the need to evolve with the times, and the traditional recruiting process is long overdue for an update. By reviewing roles with a focus on skills, exploring your internal talent pool, and using data to guide your efforts, you can create a process that attracts top talent to fill internal gaps during and after this pandemic.

Jarin Schmidt is chief experience officer at Credly.

By Jarin Schmidt