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Skills Based Recruiting: When, not How

Alice Snell

here 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

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

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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