March 2023 Newsletter

Better job, better life. Let’s help young people with the first part.?

You might not remember every boss you’ve had, but I bet you remember your best boss. That person that took a bit of time to help you out, gave some good advice, and set you on the right track. Made a massive difference, didn’t it. You were lucky.
We’re helping young people get their careers on the right track by finding good jobs, so that they can be lucky too. We’re doing this by creating short videos for them – sort of video resumes – to help them stand out and attract attention in a noisy world. We’ll be posting these on LinkedIn here
So, if you have an opening in your company for a young person, please watch the videos and reach out directly to the people featured. There’s no cost.
And if you know a young person who could use a little help finding their first job, we’re here. (Again, there’s no cost)

Rob Williams

4 Practical Ways to Get Skills-First Hiring Right

“Skills-first hiring” is one of the hottest topics in talent acquisition now, and companies have increasingly begun to embrace the idea. The number of job postings on LinkedIn that don’t require a four-year degree has risen from 15% to 20% year over year, a 33% increase. And our data shows that 40% of companies now rely on skills to search for and identify job candidates.

That’s good news for the millions and millions of workers who do not have a four-year degree, and even better news for companies facing talent and skills shortages. LinkedIn research shows that employers who find talent using skills are 60% more likely to make a successful hire than those who do not rely on skills. 

The question is: How do you actually do it? Hiring for skills is new territory for most companies, and there’s been plenty of talk about why it’s a great idea (for starters, it opens doors for more people to obtain well-paying jobs). But the nitty-gritty, day-to-day process of how to do it can be harder to pin down. 

At LinkedIn Talent Connect 2022, a number of expert panelists spoke about concrete ways that you can hire for skills. Let’s look at four of their suggestions:

1. Filter candidates in, instead of filtering them out
When recruiters and hiring managers are trying to fill a role, they often have a template in mind. They may want a candidate with a certain educational background, a specific certification, or a number of years experience. But with so many requirements, you’re likely to filter a lot of talented people out.

What if you filtered candidates in instead? 

Jennifer Paylor, vice-president and head of global talent innovation and skills at Capgemini, suggested just that during the Talent Connect breakout session Explore Skills-First Hiring in the Real World. “We often have a template of requirements,” Jennifer said, “but we really haven’t looked at: What are the skills needed to deliver value and do the job? We need to think about how we can be better at filtering in, not filtering out.

”She cited herself as an example, saying that she didn’t “check the boxes” when she got her first job. She was 19 and working on her electrical engineering degree but needed a job so she could pay for her next semester of college. An employer “filtered me in,” Jennifer said, “and I’m here today because of that.” 

2. Create a career portal that matches skills to roles
In the same breakout session, Celia Harper-Guerra, global vice president of talent acquisition and diversity, inclusion, and belonging at Sprinklr, echoed a similar concern. “ I have had many requests from managers who say, ‘I need a purple squirrel,’” she said, “and oftentimes this is all they are willing to consider for their role.”

To break out of this pattern with hiring managers, recruiters can start to assess the skills needed for each particular job during the intake session and influence their hiring managers at the beginning of the hiring process. It’s an opportunity for everyone to expand their talent pools. And, if a company has the resources, it can create a job portal that matches skills to roles. Celia pointed to Goldman Sachs as a company that’s at “the forefront of this movement.”

The investment firm created a career portal that allows candidates to apply for a specific job or division, but also for a relevant skill. After a candidate has applied to a specific skill, the portal then suggests a variety of jobs.“

The portal serves up different jobs based on your skills,” Celia added. “So now candidates can have a different perspective about their career and say, ‘Gee, maybe I should consider other areas of an organization within a company that I didn’t think of.’” This allows for companies to cast a wider net for each posted job. Candidates, on the other hand, get a window into the different opportunities and career paths available at a company.

3. Factor soft skills into the equation — they may be the most important skills of all
When Sprinklr is interviewing candidates, Celia said, they place an “extreme focus” on how the person might be a culture fit or culture add. In other words, they’re looking for soft skills that are aligned to the company culture. 

With good reason too: The McKinsey Global Institute recently looked at the skills that employees will need in the future and identified 56 foundational skills, 45 of which were soft skills. 

Skills such as empathy, creativity, adaptability, and leadership can be harder to evaluate than expertise in Python or JavaScript. But there are ways to do it. Online tools from Cappfinity and Harver can help you quickly assess soft skills. You can also be alert to soft skills during interviews — but be sure to use standardized questions with every candidate, to avoid unconscious bias. 

Soft skills are even important in high-tech roles. Sam Rad, the founder of Radical Next and a speaker on Skills in the Web3 World at Talent Connect, said that soft skills are becoming increasingly important as the workplace grows more automated. “As a society, we need the ability to unlearn and think creatively,” she said. “The context is changing radically, and what worked for us in business five years ago or even two years ago is usually no longer relevant today.” 

4. Create the bridge that candidates can use to obtain necessary skills
When a candidate has many, but not all, of the skills required for a role, companies can step in and create a bridge for workers to acquire the skills they need.

“Sometimes people just need the practical application to demonstrate their competency and gain the experience,” said Alex Mooney, senior manager of talent acquisition at Amazon, at the skills-first session. “It’s up to us as employers to create that bridge.” Amazon, he said, has a number of programs — including apprenticeships, fellowships, internships, and returnships — to help candidates reskill and upskill. 

The company’s technical apprenticeships are among them. The apprenticeships help military veterans (who often have many transferable skills) transition to careers in cloud computing. Candidates, who sometimes have no previous technical experience, can learn the skills they need during paid 16-to-18-week training courses that are followed by 12 months of on-the-job training.

LinkedIn, meanwhile, offers REACH, a technical apprenticeship program that helps candidates who have attended a boot camp but don’t have a traditional degree launch a career in technology. REACH is a multiyear program that allows employees to build their skill sets while also being full-time employees with benefits and perks.

Why are programs like these important? They help organizations fill skills gaps. And candidates also love it when companies are willing to invest in them. Career growth is so important to workers that they consider it their fourth top job priority, after compensation, work-life balance, and flexibility, according to the LinkedIn Global Talent Trends, October 2022 report. 

Final thoughts: Work on shifting the mindset 
In many ways, the most important step you can take toward implementing skills-first hiring is to shift people’s mindsets. “We have been trained and conditioned a certain way,” Jennifer said. “Never underestimate how many people subscribe to a model that is not skills-first.” 

You can begin to change that by including a skills-first approach in all aspects of your business, including communications, hiring practices, and policy. It only takes a few people to start tilting hiring practices, no matter the size of the organization. “If you can find a small group of people and align with purpose, you can change and shift the whole company,” Jennifer added. “I’ve seen it happen.”

More News Articles

The Easy Hack Can Improve Your Candidate Experience and Make You a Better Interviewer. Read here.
Companies save billions of dollars by giving employees fake “Manager” titles, study shows. Read here.

How Video will improve your Recruitment Efforts

This Week’s Must-Listen Podcast:
The Growing Value of TA Operations with Matt Alder.Listen here.