9 roles that are ideal for skills-based hiring

9 roles that are ideal for skills-based hiring

9 roles that are ideal for skills-based hiring

As a hiring manager, you might be familiar with skills-based hiring – hiring talent based on a candidate’s skills and expertise over their degree, resume, or connections. 

But you might not know exactly which roles skills-based hiring works best for or what the challenges are when hiring for each position.  

If so, you’re not alone.

Some two-thirds of Americans don’t have a college education, and 1.4 million jobs that don’t require a degree could open up to them in the next five years.1 This means HR and hiring managers everywhere need to reset their markers for candidate success.

And what better way to start than by digging into the different roles out there and their implications for skills-based hiring? 

In this article, we’ll examine why skills-based hiring is on the rise and which roles it’s suitable for. This will enable you to hire quality candidates based on your understanding of their acquired experience and skill sets. 

Specifically, we’ll look at: 

  • How skills-based hiring works when recruiting for different roles
  • Skills gaps, including whether and how skills-based hiring is used to fill the role
  • The prevalence of skills testing for each position and the benefits of using it
  • The challenges associated with using skills-based hiring for certain roles 
  • Role-specific tests and how to apply them

1The Emerging Degree Reset

Where is skills-based hiring on the rise?

In our 2022 State of Skills-Based Hiring report, we found that skills-based hiring is particularly popular in remote and hybrid working environments, being used by 81% of hybrid companies and 75.5% of fully remote businesses. 

It’s also taken off in larger corporations and the tech sector owing to the sheer volume of applicants and the specific technical skill requirements. 

Understandably, it’s less common in industries that require specific credentials apart from a traditional college degree, such as state-licensing requirements, health-specific certifications, or certain measurable skills in fields like medicine, law, and education. 

But skills-based hiring is quickly gaining ground: A staggering 79% of HR professionals claim that candidate scores on skills assessments are equally as or more important than traditional criteria in hiring decisions. 

By focusing on position-applicant alignment, you can hire candidates who are a better fit for their roles, which means they’ll be better placed to succeed.

In fact, 78% of HR professionals say the quality of their organization’s hires has improved thanks to their use of assessments. And you get a competitive advantage by reducing employee turnover while improving employee happiness, diversity, and productivity.

The benefit of skills-based hiring is that it’s likely to result in improved recruitment

processes regardless of sector or industry. However, it is particularly useful for medium to large businesses that typically recruit a number of new candidates annually. This approach can

speed up the hiring process for organizations that adopt it, as well as identify talented

individuals that may have otherwise been passed over in favor of candidates who appear to have better education or work experience on paper. Natasha Maddock, the co-founder of Events Made Simple.

Skills-based hiring quote Natasha Maddock

To better understand how to apply skills-based hiring across roles – and its benefits – let’s take a look at some positions that work well with skills-based hiring.

9 roles that are suitable for skills-based hiring

When it comes to skills-based hiring, it’s common for organizations to practice “skills ontology.” This refers to understanding the skills a candidate would need for a specific role and measuring the relationships between those skills. This helps create a common language or taxonomy for skills across various roles or platforms. 

That way, you can start building a strong vocabulary and understanding of skills across various types of employment – and hire better, more diverse candidates. 

9 roles that are suitable for skills-based hiring

1. Roles requiring high-volume hiring 

High-volume hiring for roles like call center staff and other low-complexity jobs often values skills over how well a candidate fits the job description. However, these roles suffer from high employee turnover due to skills gaps and misaligned expectations and aptitudes. 

The challenges with high-volume hiring typically include: 

  • Too many applications 
  • Poor candidate experience 
  • Inconsistent employer or organizational branding 

When you’re trying to process resumes at high volume, you need a system for reviewing and managing applications. That’s where pre-employment testing platforms and skills-based hiring come in. 

Skills-based hiring is becoming increasingly common in high-volume hiring because it helps identify candidates’ skill sets early in the application process. So it gives you more time to interview the right people for the job at crucial stages. 

Use testing platforms to automate the entire process and make it easier to stay on top of applications. 

Depending on the role, here are some skills tests you can use for high-volume hiring: 

Or you could ask the candidate to perform a take-home assessment that mirrors the demands of the job itself. For example, ask a call center representative to do a mock call, and rate their performance based on your requirements or other top-performing representatives at your company. 

But how does skills-based hiring work across more technical roles? Let’s find out. 

2. Technical roles 

Tech companies are at the forefront of the shift to skills-based hiring, focusing on skills assessments for hard skills like computer programming and soft skills like critical thinking. Companies like HubSpot (through HubSpot Academy) have also made a push for developing candidates’ micro-credentials, which recognize specific or small skills in a digital booklet. 

Skills-based hiring assessments complement technical roles because they’re a faster and more effective way to prove if a candidate has the technical skills required to succeed. Without the right technical skills, a candidate could have studied at any prestigious university but still be unable to meet the requirements of the job. 

Skill-based hiring is the most popular in the IT and hi-tech sectors. Most universities teach students outdated solutions instead of new technologies, so a college degree says little about technical skills. Therefore, companies from those industries look for people with particular skills rather than certifications. Karolina Kijowska, the head of people at PhotoAiD. 

The biggest challenge when hiring for technical positions is a lack of skilled talent. So by removing degree requirements, you can hone in on the technical, hard, soft, and transferable skills they need instead. 

To better differentiate candidates from each other, here are some skills tests you can apply within your hiring process: 

Applying these tests can help you hire talent that stands out in terms of technical skills and ability. You can also learn more about what motivates them and how they make decisions and process information. 

Now, let’s examine how to use skills-based hiring to fill sales and marketing roles. 

3. Sales and marketing roles 

Sales and marketing professionals are in high demand, being the third most coveted jobs after IT and operations and logistics in 2022.

Because of the high demand for skilled workers, skills-based hiring has become increasingly popular for these roles, with an emphasis on testing both hard and soft skills. 

Despite the 86% of marketing companies that use skills-based hiring, however, it’s still common to see resume or educational requirements on job listings for these occupations because choosing appropriate skills tests can be a challenge. 

As David Ciccarelli, the chief executive officer of Voices.com, explains, “The biggest challenge is setting up scenarios for each new role. For instance, we had a digital marketing channel manager role recently, and during a screen-sharing session, we asked the candidate to help us set up a Google Ads campaign from scratch. Those who were familiar with the interface knew exactly which buttons to click on, while others struggled to make the first few steps. In those situations, we ended the interview promptly, saving everyone time and the candidate further embarrassment.” 

Some skills-based tests that mirror the demands of these roles include the following: 

So if skills-based hiring is still mixed with traditional hiring requirements like resumes and cover letters, how might this relate to entry-level positions?  

4. Entry-level hires 

Entry-level hires may lack hard or technical skills, but they present a unique opportunity for hiring managers. Since they don’t have much experience or a packed resume to fall back on, you can test entry-level hires like graduate trainees for soft skills and mindset instead. 

This can be challenging when using skills-based hiring methods, though, since you might not know which skills candidates are likely to have or need. But it can also work in your favor. 

By testing and evaluating soft or transferable skills like communication, willingness to learn, work ethic, and problem-solving skills, you can find employees with the right perspectives and attitudes.

And these can be even more valuable than certain teachable hard skills, especially since the hardest to find and most in-demand soft skills for employers in 2022 were: 

  1. Resilience and adaptability
  2. Critical thinking and analysis 
  3. Reasoning and problem-solving 
  4. Leadership and social influence 
  5. Creativity and originality 

Skills-based hiring can help you find new hires with similar soft skills or who add to your company culture. Then, they can develop their hard skills and work experience on the job. This gives you the ability to shape new hires into the workforce you need while growing their natural skills and aptitudes. 

When hiring for entry-level positions, skills-based hiring can help you pinpoint in-demand soft skills. But what about senior positions or appointments? 

5. Senior appointments 

Although skills-based hiring is less prominent when recruiting for senior appointments like C-suite executives, it’s becoming more popular for increasing diversity in an organization. And many companies, in addition to their diversity and inclusion initiatives, want more diverse top-down representation

In fact, of the 2,736 employers we surveyed, 76.8% said their company goals included increasing diversity.

Skills-based hiring can make a big impact on leadership roles and senior appointments within a business by giving you access to more diverse candidate pools that are typically overlooked. These include women, people of color, and people with disabilities. 

It’s also likely to go hand in hand with unconscious bias training, data collection, and any other bias-reducing initiative. In our report, an astonishing 91.1% of businesses using skills-based hiring saw an increase in workplace diversity. 

And by narrowing your shortlist based on candidates’ experience and applied skills instead of their background, you limit employee turnover. At higher levels, this can have lasting positive effects on the structure and success of your organization. 

Here are some ideas for skills-based tests when hiring senior executives: 

Since skills-based hiring helps create a more diverse workforce, it can also bring top-down visibility and inclusion to otherwise all-White, all-able-bodied, or all-male positions. But how does skills-based hiring work in retail? 

6. Retail roles

Traditionally, landing a job in retail requires a strong resume that describes past retail experience without much emphasis on prior education. It’s uncommon to see skills-based hiring in retail, especially since most retailers use outdated applicant tracking software that bases a candidate’s success on their references rather than skills. 

But skills-based hiring is on the rise in retail because of Covid-19 and the lasting shortage of frontline workers like shop assistants. Faced with staff shortages, many employers have no alternative but to find new ways of sourcing skilled candidates. 

However, adopting skills-based hiring can be challenging for roles that have traditionally valued experience or resumes over skills. This leaves employers with a sizable gray area regarding exactly what skills they’re looking for. 

Yet being successful in retail involves a range of hard and soft skills — like IT skills, communication, and conflict resolution — which can all be tested and quantified. You can then use these as new markers of candidate performance and success. 

Tests you can give candidates when using skills-based hiring for retail include the following: 

Since skills-based hiring helps you test and uncover the many skills needed for retail, you can get more qualified candidates regardless of their work history. But how does this apply to service roles? 

7. Service roles 

Skills-based hiring is starting to gain momentum for service roles like hotel receptionists and managers and in the service industry at large. Of the companies we surveyed, more than half (58%) have adopted skills-based hiring in the past two years. 

This is because, unlike production or manufacturing, the service industry doesn’t rely on selling a product. Because they sell services to people, it makes sense to test service workers’ ability to handle face-to-face interactions and communication in addition to the technical skills required to run internal software or machinery. 

Skills-based hiring lets you find competent workers who might not have previous service-based experience but do have the skills and mindset necessary to succeed. 

It also widens the pool of potential you can access and lets you evaluate the skills gap in employees hired using more traditional methods. For example, you can assess gaps in soft skills – like communication and customer empathy skills – that aren’t visible on a resume. 

Here are some skills-based tests you can use when hiring for service roles: 

Skills-based hiring helps companies in the service industry hire without skills gaps, making new hires a better fit for the job at hand. Next, let’s take a look at how this works with administrative roles. 

8. Administrative roles 

Since businesses consider administrative roles relatively easy to test, it’s more common to see skills-based hiring in administrative positions.

It’s also no secret that most organizations deem office-based roles a good fit for pre-assessment testing, as opposed to fieldwork or labor-intensive roles. 

And although skills-based hiring does help you find the best talent for the role, it can be challenging to determine the right mix of soft and hard skills needed by, let’s say, an office administrator or secretary. 

However, taking a skills-based approach to hiring can help you weed out candidates who claim they have acute organizational or people skills on paper but don’t in practice. 

It also opens you up to candidates whose past experiences and skill sets better translate into administrative success — even without a resume to prove it. 

Here are some skills tests you can use to hire for administrative-based roles: 

Unlike administrative roles, which are easy to roll out a skills-based approach to hiring for, using skills-based hiring is a little more complicated with manufacturing roles. Here’s why.  

9. Manufacturing roles

Despite the benefits of reducing mis-hires, cost-to-hire, and time-to-hire, skills-based hiring is still relatively uncommon in manufacturing roles and blue-collar jobs

Since manufacturing roles often involve machinery and manual labor instead of office work, many businesses believe there’s little value in hiring workers remotely and testing their skills before they start. 

However, skills-based hiring can boost the quality of your employees (and your ability to retain them) by ensuring candidates understand the job’s requirements and whether it’s right for them before starting. 

This works by giving candidates assessments like job simulations that have them imagine they’re in a given scenario on the job or job trials that simulate a day in the life in the role. You can also use pre-employment tests like the following: 

By using these tests, you’ll get a more confident and capable workforce that knows it has what it takes to succeed. 

Skills-based hiring: Find the right people, whatever the role

With skills-based hiring, it’s easier to align new talent with the skills and day-to-day requirements of your open role. This helps them thrive in your organization and proactively add to the company culture. 

No matter the role, skills-based hiring is here to stay. And because it benefits both companies and workers, it helps HR managers and talent find the skills alignment and values they’re looking for – in all roles. 

That said, some roles are more suited than others to skills-based hiring – and certain industries are actively reaping the benefits. The roles that are ideal for skills-based hiring include: 

  • Roles requiring high-volume hiring
  • Technical roles
  • Sales and marketing roles
  • Entry-level hires 
  • Senior appointments 
  • Retail roles
  • Service roles
  • Administrative roles 
  • Manufacturing roles 

When you use skills-based hiring to find the best talent for the job, regardless of their background, ethnicity, education, and resumes, you get a pool of skilled candidates who are the right fit for the role, love what they do, and will stick around – which positively impacts your hiring ROI. 

Get better role-candidate alignment with skills-based hiring. 
Skills based-hiring helps you create a more diverse and effective hiring process. 

Download the State of Skills-Based Hiring report to find out how.

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