It’s no secret that hiring managers and recruiters have it tough when it comes to finding perfect candidates to fill open positions quickly. This can often lead to rash hiring decisions with less than ideal candidates, costing companies thousands of lost dollars per employee. And it’s not easy when rapidly changing technology creates a skills gap, making it impossible to determine a candidate’s true potential based on degrees and past roles alone. That’s why it’s critical to know your candidate’s true potential—by embracing competency as the new credential.
Education is still important, but shouldn’t be the sole recruiting factor. The job market is changing, and the candidates with the most letters at the end of their names don’t necessarily win. Hiring managers shouldn’t prioritize degrees when making hiring decisions, but focus instead on a candidate’s competency in the required skills. After all, it’s a doer’s world—those who get can stuff done are the ones who will get ahead (and provide a higher ROI).
Recruiting for competency
One way to incorporate competency hiring into your recruitment process is through skills assessments. According to Innovate+Educate, a nonprofit organization that researches and evangelizes skills-based hiring, skill assessments are five times more predictive of job success than a degree. Research has shown that organizations that implement a skills-based hiring process have a lot to show for it, including a:
Up to 75 percent reduction in turnover
50 to 70 percent reduction in time to hire
70 percent reduction in cost to hire
50 percent reduction in time to train
So, how do you recruit for competency and boost your bottom line?
Think outside of the job board
Getting creative (and smarter) with your recruiting can help you find the competent employees you’ve been looking for, and it might be easier than you thought:
Hire internally – An employee in another department may have the skills that could benefit your department for an epic win-win move.
Use social media – LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can all be useful when searching for people and skills.
Incentivize current employees – Implement a referral bonus structure or hold a social media contest. LinkedIn makes it easy for your best employees to refer others with features like alumni networks and skills- and industry-based groups.
Target competitors’ employees – Make the grass look greener on your side. (No one ever said you had to play nice.)
Go after candidates in different industries – In need of an innovative product manager? Don't just look at people in your industry, but flip the recruiting process to go after same skills in different industries.
Once you’ve found a good batch of applicants, send them your skills assessment or do a phone interview using a tried-and-true set of competency-based questions. You’ll learn quickly what a candidate is capable of and not just what they say they can do.
Here are a few things to look for when determining if a candidate is competent for the job:
Job-speak – Do they already know the language? And we’re not talking French. For tech companies, hiring employees who already know coding language can save more than just a turnover number. Take it from Google and Apple who hire based on hard(core) skills, like coding knowledge, on-the-fly problem-solving, and answering complex math problems.
Decorations – If hiring for a tech position, certifications and badges from online courses and training give prescriptive insight of competency outside of candidates’ degrees.
Evidence of accomplishments – For soft-skill competencies like self-discipline, initiative, and meeting standards, look at the measurable results. Phrases like “surpassed a $2 million monthly quota with $3 million in the Dallas bowtie market” should give you some pretty good insight into a candidate’s accomplished menswear sales experience.
Creating competency within
Skills-based training for your employees from the department VP all the way down to the summer intern can create a more competent workforce. Benefits of skills-based training include:
Increased employee productivity
Reward for long-term employees
Building a competent workforce is a balance between hiring for certain skills and knowing when to invest in employee training and utilizing effective online training platforms like Bridge to accelerate the process.
If the role you’re trying to fill is so specialized you’d need a unicorn to show up for an interview, training a close-second candidate is hardly wizardry. Embracing competency as the new credential could be the competitive advantage you’ve been searching for in all the wrong places.