A lot of recruitment and HR teams are quick to say that there’s a lack of talent out there and fewer ‘qualified’ people to fill roles. In reality, there are plenty of proactive and suitable candidates who just don’t make it through the initial stages of hiring. But why is that? 

We’ve become so used to the old fashioned tests and interview processes that most people are unwilling to change them. An alternative recruitment approach could end up drawing in a whole set of new candidates who have all the necessary skills for the role. However, in the past, we have been caught up on qualifications that we forget there are people out there who just don’t have access to this experience. 

In an effort to mitigate this issue, more businesses are taking the step towards skills-based hiring and reworking their job descriptions and interview methods to suit people who either don’t have qualifications or just aren’t well suited to the traditional approaches we often see. 

What Is Skill-Based Hiring?

Simply put, this is a method whereby recruiters focus on a candidate’s practical skills and performance, rather than their qualifications and certifications.

In the past, companies have put together a checklist of qualifications they believe each employee needs to be able to fulfil a certain role. It is often seen that to be capable, you need to have studied and be able to prove you know what you’re doing with a physical certificate or recommendation. 

Then, during the entire process, they would decide which candidates could stand a chance depending on how closely they matched this checklist. People who perhaps didn’t check any of these boxes, but could prove they had the skill set to carry out each task still wouldn’t get the opportunity to do so. 

Recently, job boards have implemented a new scheme of ‘skills tests’ that allow candidates to demonstrate their abilities through practical tasks. This helps the employer to find people who can be relied upon to fulfil each role cohesively and starts the process off on the right foot.

Creating Accessibility

An alternative recruitment approach aids people who may come across as unconfident or lacking in certain areas when faced with questions about their experience or put into stressful situations. 

While people are focussing on diversity and inclusivity in other manners, we often forget that a huge issue for unemployment and workplace accessibility is involving neurodivergent individuals. 

Neurodivergent: “differing in mental or neurological function from what is considered typical or normal (frequently used with reference to autistic spectrum disorders).”

People with neurodivergent tendencies may find it more difficult than others to express their capabilities in typical ways. For example, where we may be expected to carry out a formal interview, discussing education and experience, the role would be more accessible for everyone if a skills test or competency assessment was carried out in the comfort of their own home instead. 

This gives people equal opportunities to prove they can fulfil the role to a high standard, without being at a disadvantage due to social expectations or lack of experience. It removes the barrier that is likely the reason why HR and recruiters are struggling to find talent. 

So how can your business work to create a more accessible hiring strategy?

Skills-Based Job Adverts

Firstly, your job descriptions are the best place to start. Spring cleaning your careers page is going to help draw in a more diverse and plentiful talent pool. So instead of listing all of the qualification and experience requirements, ensure each advert is based around the individual skills the candidate will need to complete their duties. Because someone who has five years of experience in your field may not have the correct skillset to carry out each bespoke task relating to your business.

In addition, the advert itself should lay out as clearly as possible, what a day would look like in that role. This ensures that each candidate gets an accurate view of the job and can measure their own capabilities against it. Being as honest as possible here will help you whittle down suitable individuals because they will only apply if they see the role as fitting. 

Rethink Assessment Procedures

It is time to put the idea that body language and emotional cues are telling of a confident and capable candidate behind us. You’d be lying if you said you didn’t get a little nervous before an interview. This can often be the downfall for many neurotypical individuals. So when someone with an altered mindset and approach to life is thrown into the same situation – think about how they might feel. 

alternative recruitment approach

Jumping right in with personal questions about their education, work experience and personal life doesn’t always get you the information you need to decide how suitable they are. It can also throw people off of their game and distract them from reliable and important answers.

This is why we encourage a skills-based approach right from the start. When businesses wait until interview two or three to delve into a person’s skills, they are often too late and now have a backlog of work for any successful candidate because it took so long to hire. 

The first meeting, whether remotely, in person or via AI should be focused on getting to know what that person can do. Do they have the knowledge and transferable skills to get through each day and benefit your company? After all, that’s all that really matters when hiring!

Not only does this provide a better opportunity for neurodivergent candidates, but it also gives you the best chance of finding the most qualified and suitable individuals as quickly as possible.

Take A Candidate-Led Approach

Who’s to say that you have to be in charge of the entire process? Recruiting is a chance for each person to display their talents and understanding of an industry and job role. So doesn’t it make sense to let them lead the way? 

Certain HR teams and other recruiters can piece together a very structured process that every candidate goes through at the same pace. An alternative recruitment approach would see them taking a step back and providing options instead. From the place of the interview to an open dress code and online assessment option, the individual will be able to better present themselves and play to their strengths. 

It is important to remember that you are looking for someone that can complete certain tasks to a high standard. By expecting them to show up in black tie, to a location they aren’t familiar with and have all the answers to obscure questions – you aren’t solving the problem. 

When you allow them to make decisions prior to being successful, you are also creating an environment of trust and accountability. This will help you understand how they approach certain situations and so can give you another outlook on their suitability. As a result, this candidate-led method will benefit you and the individual by providing a more neutral ground.

Benefits Of An Alternative Recruitment Approach

Not only will your candidates be reaping the benefits of a skills-based alternative to hiring, but your business will be too. 

Faster Hiring Process

It goes without saying that when you need a new employee, you want them to join as soon as possible. This way you can get stuck in with training and getting them used to the role, company and colleagues. When you have to wait weeks or even months to find the right person, it leaves you in a tricky situation with delegating outstanding tasks and keeping the business running efficiently.

Understanding that a person’s skills are where you should be looking will open up a much more effective process for you and it will be easier to find the people who are most suitable for the role. If you’re waiting around for someone with a masters degree, you could be missing out on many beneficial opportunities.

Diverse Talent Pool

Like we said at the start, enterprises don’t realise that the reason there is a lack of applicants or talent out there is that you’re prioritising the wrong things. When you open up availability and take chances on those without qualifications or relevant experience – you will see an influx of people from all walks of life who can help develop your business and bring new ideas to the table. 

As a result, you will probably notice a set of far more suitable applicants who hadn’t made it to the interview before. You will have more to choose from and can really hone in on the essential skills and requirements you need to fill the role.

Higher Retention 

It was found that individuals without a degree are likely to remain with a company for 34% longer than those who attended university. It is thought that this is down to their willingness to learn and move forward as the business grows. Also, with an alternative recruitment approach, it is highly likely that they will also be better suited to that job.

This means that employee retention will increase, which is important for a company’s reputation as well as drawing in potential employees in the future. When they can see that you have a culture of inclusivity and accessibility, that diverse talent pool we spoke about will only get better!

Switch To A Skills-Based Focus With Azimuth

This just goes to show how simple it really is to move away from the old fashioned formal interviews and role-based recruiting. With modern development, we could see businesses hiring more quickly and effectively each year. 

To take this further, you don’t have to stop after hiring. Implementing skills-based training and personal development opportunities will continue to help your company grow and make the best of every employee. While many companies are revolving around diversity and inclusivity, make sure your business is taking this as far as it can go.

Are you thinking of implementing your own in house training or need a hand relaying this message to your HR team? Speak to one of our dedicated Azimuth experts today by contacting us at enquiries@azimuth.eu.com or call 01483 24 33 81. 

We will be more than happy to discuss how we can help you and with over 20 years of experience across a range of industries, we have the innovative, proven tools that can help you unlock the true potential of yourself – and your business. What are you waiting for?

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