Recruitment & Retention

HR 101: Let’s discuss skills-based hiring

Skills-based hiring has the potential to open HR up to a pool of otherwise overlooked candidates.
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Francis Scialabba

3 min read

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.

Welcome to HR 101. Class is now in session. Today’s discussion will focus on skills-based hiring.

The history. For decades, US society has dictated that a college degree is key to a successful career. But as the cost of tuition has risen, higher education has become increasingly unattainable.

In recent years, however, some employers have prioritized skills over degrees, according to a December Boston Consulting Group report. Skills-based hiring has been growing in popularity since 2019, Netherlands-based employment assessment company TestGorilla found, with the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating this way of hiring, at least temporarily, as the need for workers became critical.

“Desperate to find qualified workers, many businesses started to rethink their priorities and, at least temporarily, forgo degree requirements,” TestGorilla found. “Employers needed individuals who were up to date with the latest technologies. And for them, those competencies mattered more than a degree.”

Skills-based hiring can help expand the candidate pool from which HR is recruiting, Mila Singh, VP of people and culture at Catchafire, an organization that connects professionals with nonprofits, previously told HR Brew. And employers including Google, IBM, and Walmart have all adopted a skills-based approach to their hiring practices, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) noted.

Fast-forward. In 2022, 29% of the paid jobs posted on LinkedIn did not require a college degree, up from 20% in 2019, according to the platform. And some 70 million US workers are classified as being “skilled through alternative routes,” or “STARS,” the Boston Consulting Group report found.

There is a misconception that those without college degrees don’t have the skills required to make it in the workforce, Angela Briggs-Paige, head of people and culture at the nonprofit Opportunity@Work, told SHRM.

“Managers often overestimate the percentage of the workforce who hold degrees,” she told SHRM. Just 37.7% of people aged 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree, according to 2022 US Census Bureau data. “This misperception, coupled with the notion that low-wage means low-skilled and that no degree means no skill, can inhibit mobility for millions of workers without degrees,” she added.

Is your organization changing its hiring strategies to prioritize skills over degrees? Let us know by emailing [email protected].

Quick-to-read HR news & insights

From recruiting and retention to company culture and the latest in HR tech, HR Brew delivers up-to-date industry news and tips to help HR pros stay nimble in today’s fast-changing business environment.