The shift from role-based to skills-based recruitment
The competition for talent in the APAC region is at a melting point. More than ever, finding the right candidates is a major challenge. This skills crisis is transforming talent acquisition (TA) strategies, requiring new technology and fresh approaches to meet workforce demands.
Recently, AMS spoke with TA leaders across the region from some of the world’s leading corporations about how recruitment is evolving to secure and retain tomorrow’s talent. Our conversations revolved around the challenges of skills-based recruitment, and how tech tools are becoming more important in enhancing candidate engagement and loyalty.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the session.
The future is uncertain – is demand planning still relevant?
Most of the panel experts agreed they are struggling to deliver a long-term talent plan. So, how are TA leaders putting together their strategy to hire effectively for tomorrow?
One of the panelists spoke candidly about the challenges of navigating this difficult market. Their approach is to have regular conversations with management around future talent pipelining. By challenging management teams early on what’s needed, and how roles are changing, it allows them to be proactive and create a forecast for the next 6 to 12 months. This means TA can start looking for tomorrow’s people, today.
Another talent leader said they were using new technology to stay ahead. AI talent pooling tools are allowing them to be proactive in finding new roles and skillsets that will meet their business needs – even before they come up. In this way, they are focused on looking ahead, so they can quickly adapt as the skills required to drive their organisation forward begin to change.
Other businesses, however, are simply taking a pause. With so much turbulence in the market, they’ve taken time out to understand what skills will be needed in the future before introducing new technologies to support the process. They’re working closely with their wider business to create talent mapping as they realise that skills requirements are changing. This way, they are allowing for more focused and informed decisions about the kinds of talent technology they would eventually like to bring in.
With so much emphasis on skills, many of the businesses on the panel said they are now shifting their recruitment focus to look at skills, rather than jobs, to ensure they are ready for tomorrow’s talent demands.
Shifting the mindset
To enable a business to start looking at hiring processes differently, a change in mindset is crucial. Not just with one department, but across the entire business. Shifting to skills-based recruitment is no easy task. Everyone has different ideas on what essential skills are. If you ask three hiring managers to define critical roles, for example, you may get three very different answers.
To enable a true shift to a skills-based mindset, recruiters and hiring managers must be educated on looking at roles from a different perspective. As one panel expert put it, “hiring managers can get stuck in this role-based view and don’t really understand what is meant by skills. They tend to focus on roles and responsibilities, and not on the core skills that are needed for the role.”
But it’s not just the recruiters that need to adapt, so does the wider business outside of TA. To deliver a change of this magnitude requires buy-in from the top down. Management needs to agree the importance of focusing on skills and understand that day-to-day hiring processes must undergo some change. As one expert put it, “for skills-based to be successful it's not just the TA team that needs to change, it's the whole HR eco-system.”
Making skills-based hiring a success
Overall, the panelists agreed that moving towards a skills-based hiring approach was the way forward. The general belief was that “getting stuck in role-based hiring will not bring the right talent for the future”.
But as most businesses have realised, implementing skills-based is a journey, not a switch. And that journey requires small steps rather than big leaps.
For example, many of the panelists in the session had started to slowly introduce skills-based hiring by using a combination of role-based and skills-based approaches, which is working well. Some are shifting to skills-based hiring for some areas of the business where it is clear how those transferable skills are relevant – such as tech. But as skills-based hiring is not a one-size-fits-all approach, other business areas (where the case for change isn’t as obvious) have not yet had the same treatment.
As an alternative view point, one talent expert said they had been using skills-based hiring for only internal mobility. They found this was particularly beneficial, as it gave them the ability to get feedback on the process directly from the employees being moved around the business, and how their skills were being put to use elsewhere.
Driving skills externally
Since making skills-based hiring a success internally is so challenging, some businesses are getting proactive, and taking it beyond their own workplace.
One of the panel experts discussed their focus on talking to colleges and universities about skills-based hiring. They spoke to training institutes about the need for this additional area of education, some of which then implemented new courses to address glaring skills gaps. This was a truly innovative solution to get more future-fit skills taught in the region’s colleges and schools. In this way, the business helped to ensure the right skilled talent would be there when they needed it.
Another panelist highlighted a new way of promoting skills through recruiters themselves. They suggested that recruiters could actively encourage candidates to highlight their skills, and then put them into the assessment notes. This way, when the candidate is applying for roles, the skills they could offer would be available ‘at a glance’.
Another benefit many talent leaders were seeing is that, by making the shift to a skills-based approach, they are able to deliver better against their diversity and inclusion (DEI) ambitions.
Skills-based hiring opens a whole new world of possibilities for talent pools who may have otherwise been overlooked in a focus on role-based hiring. By evaluating candidates (both internal and external) by skillset, rather than by university degrees or specific job experience, this serves to create more opportunities for underrepresented groups in the workforce.
As one expert put it, “just because the person before had 10 years’ experience doesn’t mean the next person requires the same level of experience. When you only focus on the role-based approach you are doing people a disservice.”
It’s time for change
The major takeaway from the webinar session is that everyone is moving towards a skills-based hiring strategy. Some are already far down the road, while others are still on the starting line.
There are many obstacles to overcome – from changing perceptions, to choosing the right initiatives to implement. But one thing was clear, focusing on skills is about mutual ownership and accountability. As one expert said, “It’s not just a TA problem, it’s a joint challenge everyone needs to be involved in.”
Need help in getting the right people for your business? AMS has the expertise to deliver the right long-term talent strategy for your business. Get in touch today.