How technology has enabled skills-based hiring and the move away from resumes

How technology has enabled skills based hiring and the move away from resumes
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Traditional hiring methods have worked consistently for about a hundred years – just like traditional work weeks and the 9 to 5 workday.

But with events like the Great Reshuffle and the pandemic, traditional methods aren’t doing the trick anymore.

Employment, to no surprise, demands skills from employees. But the evolution of the hiring process over the years has caused employers to lose sight of that. Now they look for on-paper qualifications and experience instead without truly verifying a candidate’s abilities.

Focusing on skills helps you make better hiring decisions, drive career growth, boost your company’s performance, and improve workplace diversity. Although, accurately assessing a candidate’s skills is nearly impossible without the right technology.

Thankfully, we’re currently living in a technological wonderland, and the tools to enable the future of hiring are close at hand. Tech has enabled the implementation of skills-based hiring with easy-to-use, accessible skills-testing platforms and the ability to reach candidates all over the world.

Let’s talk about the march of technology and how it’s made skills-based hiring a reality for modern companies.

The resume used to be our best tool for assessing skill

The resume is the most traditional way to assess a candidate’s skills, and for years, resumes were also considered the best hiring method available. 

Resumes were a way for candidates to catalog their skills, experience, and education, and they enabled hiring managers and recruiters to easily scan for qualifications, check for industry experience, and then pick the best candidate for the role.

The history of the resume technically began in the 1400s (credited to none other than Leonardo da Vinci), but they havebeen a regular part of the application process since the 1950s.

At this time, it was commonplace for companies to ask for a candidate’s age, weight, parents’ backgrounds, and even a “professional” photo of them wearing workwear. Candidates wouldalso personalize their resumes with details about their hobbies and interests to stand out.

It was effective but resumes left a lot of room for bias.

Of course, when discussing hiring practices in the 1950s, you probably knew this would be brought up. While modern resumes don’t ask for a candidate’s weight or a picture of them in formal wear, they still leave a chance for gender, class, and racial biases.[1]

Resumes also don’t consider the whole candidate. They don’t give any insight into an applicant’sexact skill levels, personality, or culture add potential.

It’s right in the name. The word “resume” was first recorded in the dictionary in the early 1800s. It comes from the French verb “resumer,” which literally translates to “something that has been summed up.”

Resumes are simply a quick summary of a candidate’s capabilities – not an accurate deep dive.

These documents were one of the top methods we had at the time, but things have changed.

For more insights on the history of hiring trends, read our blog on the rise of skills-based hiring.

Technology led to a rising trend for skills-based hiring

So, why the sudden shift away from resumes?

In recent years, the surge of technology has helped skills-based hiring to hit the ground running and take the world by storm.

This growth is closely tied to the Great Reshuffle and the pandemic, which necessitated technology and tools for going remote.

These events drove technological advances in all areas of work, which lead to practices such as remote and hybrid job roles, video conferencing, and even 100% remote companies.

HR has also experienced these technological advancements, and recruiting tools have slowly and steadily improved, enabling us to accurately test for 300+ skills via online tests and assessments.

This development has empowered countless more companies to take on skills-based hiring. According to TestGorilla’s State of Skills-Based Hiring report, 76% of organizations used skills-based hiring practices in 2022.

A progression to skills-based hiring makes sense in the modern world. Today, the working world has a strong focus on skills because of a widespread skills shortage.

Even as market conditions improve, we still face above average turnover rates and a global talent shortage.

Skills-based practices are at our fingertips

Why would companies use traditional methods if they have the option? It’s silly to keep plowing your field with horses when tractors are readily available.

Let’s look at a quick comparison between skills-based hiring and traditional hiring:

Skills-based hiring

Traditional hiring

Reduced time-to-hire

Reduced cost-to-hire

Great indicator of job performance

Wider talent pool

Readily available tools to facilitate the process

Time-consuming resume sorting and screening

Costly processes

Unreliable assessment of skills

Narrow talent pool

These aren’t just assumptions, either. According to TestGorilla’s State of Skills-Based Hiring report, out of the companies that adopted skills-based hiring:

  • 92.5% of organizations saw a reduction in mis-hires

  • 89.8% of organizations saw a reduction in cost-to-hire

  • 91.4% of organizations saw a reduction in time-to-hire

graphic showing skills based vs traditional hiring

Skills-based hiring is connecting thousands of candidates to their dream jobs and thousands of organizations with stellar employees.

These excellent candidates have always been around, we just didn’t have the technology to find them. For many companies, the issue isn’t the availability of solid candidates, but rather how those candidates are screened and assessed.

“You can’t see what you’re missing,” Auguste said. “Once you remove those barriers, now you can start to see.” - Byron Auguste, the chief executive and founder of Opportunity@Work, described traditional methods as being blind to real skill and capability.

Traditional methods, like resumes, are a barrier that makes it hard to see a candidate’s skill and nearly impossible to see future potential.

Another key element in skills-based hiring is reducing bias. The rise of technology has allowed us to open our talent pools to thousands of people from different regions or those who mainly communicate remotely.

It has also enabled us to hire people purely for skills and drastically reduce unconscious bias.

Without the right tools, skills-based hiring couldn’t have succeeded as it has. A hiring process that’s open to bias can never be truly skills-based. 

Not all technology is AI

With skills-based hiring tools, we can finally predict how candidates would actually perform like we’ve always wanted and needed to.

But please take note that not all technology is AI. 

AI tools for scanning resumes and applications have been known to show bias and lead to discrimination – they inherit the biases of their data. This is the opposite of TestGorilla’s mission. 

Skills testing existed before this technology, but it wasn’t easy. In the past, skills-based recruitment involved on-the-job evaluation and expensive trials. These methods are still used and are now much easier with modern tools.

Skills-based hiring is easier than ever now that we have accurate tools at easy access.

How tech helped spread skills-based hiring

We’re in the middle of an HR revolution and a major culture shift, and technology is at the head of it.

In this section, we take a look at how technology has impacted the future of recruitment and skills-based practices. 

Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Online skills testing

  2. Opens the talent pool and reaches more candidates

  3. Ability to respond quickly to shifting skills

  4. Access to a myriad of advanced, skills-based tools

Online skills testing

Let’s begin with the most crucial technological advancement in skills-based hiring: online skills tests.

Online skills tests help hiring managers objectively evaluate hundreds of candidates quickly and efficiently. With skills tests, recruiters can make the best possible screening decisions while reducing and even eliminating bias.

This is essential when one of the biggest challenges employers face when adopting skills-based hiring is the time, effort, and opportunity costs of deploying hiring managers to properly handle the preparation and assessment of tests.

Our skills tests were designed by subject matter experts with guidance from our team to ensure accurate validation of skills and capabilities. 

Generally, it’s best to combine a handful of different tests into a role assessment. This is called multi-measure testing.

Multi-measure tests don’t just evaluate one element of a candidate, instead looking at role-specific skills, cognitive abilities, and personality. This method has been shown to have the highest predictive validity among hiring practices.[2]

This is what an example multi-measure assessment for a front-end engineer might look like:

  1. Angular test: Evaluates a developer’s knowledge and experience with the Angular framework

  2. CSS test: Assesses a developer’s knowledge and skills in CSS concepts and techniques

  3. Critical Thinking test: Evaluates a candidate’s skills in critical thinking through inductive and deductive reasoning problems

  4. Numerical Reasoning test: Evaluates a candidate’s general aptitude with numbers and their skill in interpreting them for a wide range of applications

  5. Culture Add test: Assesses how a candidate’s values and behaviors align with your organization’s values

How do skills assessments work?

Candidates complete the skills assessments instead of submitting applications and resumes, then the hiring manager reviews the results.

Rather than sorting through applications, the hiring manager now sorts candidates by predetermined criteria and scoring benchmarks to find the ones who scored the highest.

These candidates move on to interviews like usual, but now you’ve already verified their skills.

For more details on a skills-based interview, read our blog on how to conduct a structured interview.

Opens the talent pool and reaches more candidates

Advancements in technology don’t only facilitate skills-based hiring – they also open the talent pool and reduce hiring bias.

True skills-based hiring should eliminate as much bias as possible, but that’s much harder to achieve without the right tools.

For example, one study showed that 85% of businesses have trouble sourcing a diverse range of tech talent. 

The study also found that 21% of those organizations exclusively hire graduates from top universities, and a further 39% said that they’re more likely to hire graduates from those colleges.

Even worse, only 28% said they consider applications from all universities equally and a startling 8% said they consider all types of educational qualifications.

We think it’s clear why organizations aren’t finding the talent they’re looking for.

Companies are struggling to find diverse talent because of outdated hiring practices, such as specifically screening out candidates that don’t fit the “right” educational qualifications.

But technology like online skills testing keeps the process as anonymous and bias-free as possible. Here are a few ways skills testing removes opportunities for bias:

  • Removes names, gender, race, and age from the initial stages of hiring

  • Tosses out the need for resumes

  • Doesn’t rely on extensive work experience and college degrees

This helps hiring managers find the ideal candidate regardless of their background.

This technology also helps open your talent pool to internal candidates.

Bolstering skills testing with tools like an internal talent marketplace can help match job openings to potential internal candidates with the right skill sets, facilitating growth and internal mobility.

It might be odd to think about “opening” your talent pool to your own employees, but it’s true that internal candidates are, for many, rarely considered for open roles.

For more insights, check out our full guide on expanding your talent pool.

Ability to respond quickly to shifting skills

In the modern working world, skills and job responsibilities are rapidly shifting.

A study by Gartner showed that the number of skills required for a single job role increases by 10% each year.

Technological advancements help you adjust to these changes smoothly by facilitating upskilling and reskilling, and growth is key in a skills-based environment.

What’s the difference between upskilling and reskilling? Upskilling is when you add skills to an employee’s current role skill set. Reskilling is when you equip employees with new skills to pursue a new line of work or role.

It may sound a little nonstandard, but reskilling is a crucial part of your people strategy. Business leaders in 2020 predicted that about 40% of their employees would require reskilling in the near future.

How does tech help with growth and training? We recommend using skills tests to assess skills in a skills gap analysis. After the initial evaluation, you can use the same tests when you administer training to monitor progress and verify skills.

For more on this topic, read our guide on how to use skills tests to address skills gaps.

Access to a myriad of advanced, skills-based tools

Modern technology facilitates skills-based hiring with more than just skills tests.

There are a myriad of other recruitment tools that are helping improve the HR landscape, build a healthy hiring culture, and further skills-based practices.

Let’s take a look at a few other skills-based hiring tools:

  • Job simulations*: Job simulations enable hiring managers to put candidates in a realistic work scenario to assess their skills, and many tools help you build these simulations.

  • Candidate relationship management (CRM) system: This type of CRM is similar to the traditional customer relationship management system. These tools help with automated data entry, candidate pipeline management, and managing analytics. In skills-based hiring, they help you keep track of candidates by their skill sets so you can match candidates to positions when new roles open up.

  • Video interview programs: Video conferencing programs help streamline the interview process and can even help facilitate structured interviews by providing candidates with pre-established questions.

*A special mention goes to job simulations and how much they assist a skills-based hiring process.

These simulations help both employers and candidates evaluate if the role is right for the applicant. Employers can see candidate skills in action, and candidates can see if the responsibilities and culture match what they’re looking for.

Tech giant IBM uses internal pre-employment simulations to assess tech candidates. Instead of relying solely on experience and education, they conduct tests and simulations to objectively determine skills.

IBM believes that resumes aren’t a reliable indicator of candidate skills and that the best way to determine capabilities is to see them in action.

Skills tests are the primary way to assess skills in a skills-based hiring process, but other methods like job simulations can be a great way to verify difficult-to-testskills.

To read about these methods in depth, take a look at our article on how to take skills tests off the written page.

Step into modern hiring by using skills testing

Technology has made amazing strides in recent years to bring us where we are today.

Hiring tools, such as skills tests, not only make skills-based hiring easy and approachable but also make assessing capabilities objective and accurate.

There was a time that resumes were useful, but that time is over. Now that we have access to tests that reliably evaluate true skill, why bother with outdated methods?

To continue learning about modern HR tools, check our guide on how to choose your HR technology stack.

You can also take a look at our test library to acquaint yourself with pre-employment testing and browse more than 200 skills tests.

Source

  1. Rivera, Lauren; Tilcsik, András. (December 21, 2016). "Research: How Subtle Class Cues Can Backfire on Your Resume". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved April 3, 2023. https://hbr.org/2016/12/research-how-subtle-class-cues-can-backfire-on-your-resume 

  2. Martin, Whitney. (August 27, 2014). "The Problem with Using Personality Tests for Hiring". Harvard Business Review. Retrieved May 4, 2023. https://hbr.org/2014/08/the-problem-with-using-personality-tests-for-hiring

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