Skills-Based Recruiting: Not “What?” But “When?”

There has been a lot of buzz lately about “skills-based recruiting.” Is this yet another management fad pushed down from above? With scant time in the day to even read last week’s email, a busy recruiter might worry about finding the time for professional development to brush up on another new recruiting methodology. The good news is there’s no need to take a seminar or certify for anything new. Recruiters have been using skills-based recruiting all along! Skills-based recruiting is the term given to the recruiter-driven process of matching skills to a perceived hiring need. The emphasis is on the recruiter driving the process, actively pursuing the information he or she needs to assess a match between the candidate’s skills and the requirements of the job position. Who’s Driving? Perhaps the best way to appreciate the subtle shift in emphasis placed by skills-based recruiting is to consider the difference between an interview and a resume. An interview is quintessentially recruiter-driven; the recruiter asks the questions, and generally determines the course of the interview. Skills assessment is one of the most important functions of an interview. Situational and behavioral interview techniques are two methods for assessing skills in job situations. (Even reference checks fit the definition of a recruiter-driven skills-assessing process.) The content of a resume, on the other hand, is wholly determined by the candidate. In the traditional recruiting cycle, the resume is the first means by which a recruiter can assess the match between the candidate’s skills and the requirements of the job position. However, (candidate-driven) resumes generally do not contain the right information. In reviewing a resume, the recruiter must look for clues that indicate whether it is worthwhile to bring the hiring process to the next step-to the (recruiter-driven) skills-based recruiting interview. Skills-Based Prescreening A software company recently ran a classified ad that contained a short piece of computer code. The ad stated the function of the code, and asked readers if they could improve upon it. This is an example of skills-based prescreening being introduced as early as possible?to the ad creative. Past work experience and duties, past education, and other information typically pushed from a candidate to a recruiter is secondary. What is important is a skill that is directly applicable to job performance?whether the potential candidate understands the computer code, and can improve upon it. Which will the software company recruiter look at first: the resume or the suggestion for improving the computer code? Skills-based recruiting can also be pushed towards the beginning of the recruiting process through automated pre-screening. Sophisticated hiring management systems provide the application through which recruiters can glean candidate skills information through online questionnaires during the first contact. So initial questions can automatically gather the fundamental skills information up front. And, the recruiter’s valuable time is spent conducting a more in-depth, thorough interviews of the most qualified candidates. Early and Automated In skills-based recruiting, the recruiter is driving the process to get the information that is sufficient to assess the match between the candidate’s skills and the requirements of the job position. With traditional resume-based recruiting, skills-based recruiting is performed but delayed. That delay, which comes from an inadequate and inefficient process, can ultimately result in bad decision-making. The lack of critical information at the right moment in the process may even mean the recruiter hits the proverbial dead end?no opportunity for thorough skills-based recruiting procedures. Moving skills-based recruiting activities earlier in the recruiting process through automated pre-screening systems enables the recruiter to use his or her own skills most effectively. All recruiters practice skills-based recruiting?some just do it earlier than others!

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Alice Snell is vice president of Taleo Research. The specialty research practice analyzes the best practices and economics of talent management. Taleo Research focuses on critical issues and key trends in talent management that impact organizational performance. Taleo Research is the strategic research division of Taleo, which provides on demand talent management solutions for organizations of all sizes, worldwide.

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