Surveys say: Employers leaning more into hiring those with skills versus experience

An emerging trend is occurring within the jobs sector in the U.S. and abroad: More employers are looking to hire workers based on their skills rather than how much experience they have. 

About 45% of companies are adopting a "skills first" approach, a strategy that helps reduce bias, and 33% are replacing resumes as a top gauge with other skills-based assessments. 

That's according to a new survey conducted by HireVue, a video interviewing platform that uses AI-driven software to help companies seek equitable hiring.  

"Typically, the traditional way to view a potential employee is through a resume and a vita, but that's quickly changing," said Dr. Nathan Mondragon, HireVue's chief industrial-organizational psychologist. "Those two methods can be limiting in terms of determining someone's potential and skill set."  

Meanwhile, with an estimated 11.5 million jobs open across the U.S., another survey conducted by marketer DCI said talented workers are increasingly not willing to sacrifice their quality of life for a job. DCI's study of 3,000 people also said small and midsize cities are now competing with their big-city counterparts because of workers' new demands and how employers are trying to meet them. 

"The gap between the quality of life and job-related factors and the importance of those two factors is definitely narrowing," said Katherine Saunders, a DCI executive vice president.

These hiring studies come as the U.S. economy is shrinkingfueling recession fears, while the U.S. dollar is suddenly strong globally. The surveys also arrive as job creation is continuing in the U.S. Employers added a sturdy 372,000 jobs in June, to go with an average of 457,000 a month so far in 2022.

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What are employees looking for in 2022?

HireVue's report surveyed 1,600 hiring leaders across the finance, retail, construction, health care, and manufacturing industries. They said their top issue remains filling roles quickly. 

In addition to adopting more of a skills-first approach and assessments, HireVue's survey said 16% of companies are dropping college-degree requirements for certain jobs, and 18% of companies are also prioritizing Bootcamp training certifications instead of excluding candidates without degrees.

HireVue's survey also said 47% of companies are now evaluating more candidates from marginalized and overlooked worker groups, including mature-age, undergrad (44%), and junior workers (38%), typically those under the age of 19.

HireVue CEO Anthony Reynolds and Mondragon, who specializes in human behavior in the workplace, both say that opens a wider and more diverse hiring pool. They cite HireVue's work this year with banker Goldman Sachs' summer student internship program.

The bank recruited students from 607 schools worldwide, 100 more than last year. The virtual interviews helped lead about 3,700 students to internships at offices across the U.S. A record 236,000 students applied, the bank said. 

"Goldman cast a wider net," Reynolds said. "We believe the results will pay off."   

Both HireVue execs expect the percentage of companies dropping college degree requirements for certain jobs to gradually increase from 16% in coming years.

"It's trending up," Reynolds said. "Our best guess is that number will continue to climb."

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What skills are in demand? 

Reynolds and Mondragon said skills-based approach jobs can range from specialized to hourly-wage earners, where there includes "a large core segment" including customer service, hospitality, and retail. The HireVue execs also said some jobs in high-paying sectors including technology, include many skills-based jobs as well.    

Why is it so difficult to find workers?

Reynolds said that with nearly 12 million available jobs in the U.S. and about 5 million Americans seeking work, he's seeing "firsthand that it’s a candidates market." That means employees, whether it's college grads, hourly-wage earners , or seasoned professionals, likely have multiple options.

DCI's Saunders agrees. She said employees' top demands previously were about salary and benefits, but that's no longer the case.

"Now it's salary, a good work-life balance, benefits, location, doing meaningful work and finding that purpose in their job," she said. "That's because the weight of the pandemic not only led to 'the great resignation,' but also 'the great reflection,' where employees started asking themselves what do they want out of their jobs?"

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Comparatively, the DCI study said, "Without even considering the spatial mismatches or skill shortages, the odds are not in favor of employers looking to retain or attract employees."

How do you get and retain employees?

HireVue's CEO Reynolds said their study also showed that more than half of companies surveyed (54%) have adopted a skills-first approach to acquiring talent, and/or replaced resumes with skills-based assessments (40%).

Reynolds said many of those companies also reported experiencing lower employee turnover due to efforts to promote and transfer from within.

"Those figures show an improvement against the bias we’re trying to mitigate and remove to help companies get the best candidates for the job," he said. 

HisHireVue colleague, Mondragon, said more employers want hires to have an "internal mobility and an agile mindset." Can employees come into an organization and be willing to switch jobs with proper notice and be open to "upskilling or reskilling," if necessary?

"A company may tell a hire 'we might want you in job Y, or the projects you work on in six- to nine months may change, so we want you to be adaptable,'" Mondragon said.

For example, Mondragon cited automaker Ford reportedly cutting 8,000 jobs to help fund its move from combustion engines to electric vehicles. He said maybe some of those workers can be trained to learn the EV environment. 

"Everything they've learned is likely transferable," Mondragon said. "If they learned one skill, who's to say they can't learn something else?"

Reynolds and Mondragon said skills-based approach jobs can range from college graduates to hourly-wage earners, this includes "a large core segment" where those jobs range from customer service to hospitality and retail. The HireVue execs also said some jobs in high-paying sectors, including technology include many skills-based jobs as well. 

Follow Terry Collins on Twitter, @terryscollins