If you're trying to hire for skills, you'll need to make changes to your promotions, pay, and culture, too.
The tight labor market of the last few years has spurred employers to rethink the way they screen job applicants, and some, like Kellogg’s, General Motors, and Bank of America are eliminating four-year degree requirements. The alternative to degree requirements and strict rules about work experience has come to be known as skills-based hiring—and it can attract workers from a wider variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skill sets.
“Removing the four-year degree requirement is a powerful first step, but isn’t going to get the job done all by itself,” says Elyse Rosenblum, managing director and founder at Grads of Life, which advocates for sustainable and inclusive hiring practices. “A skills-first talent management strategy is what leading employers are doing.”
But after ditching degree requirements, employers and managers should be prepared to make changes to hiring, promotions, pay, and culture, too. Here’s what workforce advocates, academics, and employees say makes skills-based hiring effective.
Overhauling hiring processes can be daunting. Rosenblum suggests starting where hiring managers are excited about a new way of doing things. That could be with just one team. “Companies that are doing best right now did not start tiny, they didn’t pick one job, but they did start small—a division, a business unit—and they did some work to figure out this is going to work in their organization and what needs to change in their culture,” she says.
Identify culture changes to be made
Companies will have to banish old ways of thinking about job qualifications, especially because hiring managers and colleagues may continue to favor applicants with degrees. Workers say they’ve felt their competency questioned; they’ve also been underpaid, denied raises, and prevented from advancing within the organization. “I was always told that I need to prove myself more,” says Christina Ward, who has worked in tech and book publishing over the last twenty years.
Teams should train managers on this discriminatory behavior (and establish a zero-tolerance policy for it). Track workers’ mobility throughout the organization, as well as pay and promotions, to ensure they’re not forced to lag behind their peers.