Talent search | Skills overtake qualifications as employers' top talent priority

Skills overtake qualifications as employers' top talent priority

According to new findings released by LinkedIn, employers are increasingly looking for skills when hiring, which now take precedence over the traditional qualification requirements.

The revelation came about due to US-based analysis that LinkedIn ran within a search for new sales support staff; it discovered that the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic within the jobs market had led to discerning good candidates from what it called ‘unexpected places’.

One of the key areas in which staff were unexpectedly qualified for the role was the service industry, which was one of the hardest hit by coronavirus redundancies and closures, and where LinkedIn claimed staff had around 70% of the transferrable skills needed to succeed as sales support staff.

As such, LinkedIn scrapped its qualification requirements and guaranteed interviews for candidates who undertook training courses to fill the gaps in their skills.

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“We were blown away by the results. We hired from backgrounds we didn’t use before, faster and more efficiently,” Hari Srinivasan, Vice-President of Product Management at LinkedIn Learning told Forbes.

Around 1,000 people applied for the open positions, with 219 passing the assessments. Ultimately, 28 were hired, 43% of whom did not have a first degree or prior work experience, meaning they previously would not have been considered.

As a result of the revelatory experience, LinkedIn is trialling a new product called ‘Skills Patch’, in which a dozen companies are piloting purely skills-based hiring, in line with LinkedIn’s own talent search.

However, according to Forbes research, LinkedIn’s new approach is not unique; the publication said that the move comes as part of a broader international trend away from traditional qualifications-based hiring requirements, and into purely skills-matched recruitment.

The solution for skills gaps in this new approach to talent search is to ‘top up’ learning with complimentary online courses and educational opportunities – as a result, Till Leopold, Head of Action and Initiatives at the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the New Economy and Society, said that demand for such education has hit new highs this year.

“The uptake of online courses and the number of organisations offering credentials have gone through the roof over the past 12 months,” he explained.

And it seems that this trend is far from slowing down; in fact, Ryan Rolansky, Chief Executive at LinkedIn, explained to Forbes that this new way of looking at potential talent is only just the beginning.

“We use degrees and experience to assess talent because we don’t have anything better,” he says. “The next chapter is to help workers better understand the skills they need. It’s not just about your pedigree, where you went to school, or who you know but also about the skills you have,” Rolansky concluded.

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