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Hire for the Skills. Not for the Title.

Posted by Eric Friedman

 skills

Once upon a time, a manager was a manager. Organizations had clear hierarchies, and job titles indicated an employee’s experience and level of responsibility, and they meant the same thing to anyone reading a résumé.

Not anymore.

Today, employment is more fragmented, and a job seeker’s work experience might include freelancing, entrepreneurship, a traditional 9-to-5 job or a combination of all three.

In start-up companies, workers often take on jobs that never existed before and wear many hats. Their jobs evolve quickly. Nothing is traditional about what they do, and their self-created job titles—such as “influencer,” “strategist” and “professional evangelist”—reflect these changes. A freelancer, working alone, might find it reasonable to call himself or herself a CEO.

Job titles have become fluid, fantastical, inflated and sometimes irrelevant. So what should an HR Manager do?

Hire for Skills

An ideal hire will excel at the tasks he or she is given, feel engaged and be loyal to the company.  Since the same title can mean different things within different companies, job seekers who share the same title may not have anywhere near the same skill levels, or even the same skill set.  That’s why hiring based on relevant, tested skills, connected to your company’s job requirements, will result in a more accurate hire.

Another reason to hire on the basis of tested skills is to avoid discrimination and resulting legal risks.  The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has made it clear in their hiring guidelines that selection based on skills demonstrably relevant to the job is the ultimate form of compliance.

Employers and Employee Benefits

For the employer:

  • Hiring increases accuracy, so teams become higher-performing over time
  • Time-to-hire is reduced because candidates screen themselves in or out, early in the process and on their own time, allowing you to hire the best candidates before they go elsewhere, and jobs remain empty for less time.
  • HR spends significantly less time on the hiring process, no longer needing to manually screen candidates or interview those who lack the skills needed for a job.

This platform set the perfect stage to verify skills and abilities for applicants ranging from entry level customer service to senior level software engineers…This system has literally saved us hundreds of working hours. 1-800 Contacts

 

For the candidate:

  • A well-constructed job-based test reveals qualified applicants based on their merits, not who they know.
  • Applicants get a good sense of the expectations for the job and know up front if the job will be a good fit or not.
  • Some candidates report appreciating the thoughtfulness of the assessment process and have greater respect for the employer.

Looking at the layout of the assessment, I can determine that this job, career rather, is a great opportunity for individuals to gain a mass of knowledge and stay up to date with the latest and greatest technologies. Overall, the assessment made me evaluate my professional technical skills and was actually quite refreshing. Thank you for this opportunity. Reuben, a candidate test-taker

 

Use Titles As a Starting Point, But Verify

Titles may not be ideal for making hiring decisions, but they are still a good starting point for recruiters looking for candidates in databases or on LinkedIn. There are 6.5 million active job listings on LinkedIn. Forty-eight percent of recruiters use LinkedIn for social outreach, and 94% of recruiters use LinkedIn to vet candidates. LinkedIn offers candidates the ability to list skills and be endorsed for those skills by others, and candidates should take advantage of this, but employers should realize that the number of LinkedIn endorsements are driven largely by a profile’s popularity and therefore can be taken with a grain of salt.  Use skills listed in résumés and LinkedIn as a sourcing tool, but verify them with valid skills assessments.

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Should You Trust Credentials?

There are pretty much only two kinds of widely recognized credentials today: degrees from accredited schools and certifications from vendors of specific products (e.g. Microsoft Office) or branded methodologies (e.g. Six Sigma).  A bone heap of lesser-known vendors have tried to become third party certifiers of job titles and skill sets but have not stood the test of time. Even so, a candidate may have gained valuable skills from one of these vendors.

Rather than wondering whether you can trust a credential that isn’t widely recognized or respected, you can test the candidate’s actual skills. Even if the candidate has earned recognized credentials, how can you tell if a candidate’s knowledge is fresh? Again, you can test for it. A point-of-application skills assessment will always be a good idea, since it tests relevant skills at the moment they’re needed.

Should You Trust Your Intuition?

The online technology to acquire and assess professional skills is constantly improving and slowly being adopted by Human Resource departments.  This should cause hiring to migrate from being driven by networking power to being driven by skills meritocracy.  This is healthy and helps eliminate bias based on race, gender, and other demographics that are not reliable predictors of performance.

However, human connections and the need for trust will always play a part in some hiring situations (for example, jobs that require not only skills and behaviors but also the ability to form and maintain relationships).

At the end of the day, successful hiring depends on the recruiter’s analysis of multiple factors to make the best decision. Skills assessments can make your job easier, but the puzzle solver is still you.

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About Eric Friedman

Author

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.

4 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Mariah August, 22, 2017

    Great article. In a world where everybody is making up their own title, there is no way we should trust them. Always test and hire for skills.

  • Joanne August, 22, 2017

    In addition to skills testing, I like to test candidates in different ways, such as asking the candidate to describe different situations – where he failed, where he succeeded, what he would change, what he hates and what he loves.

  • Ingrid August, 22, 2017

    Job titles affect people’s perception of you and the amount of power you may or may not be wielding. However, when hiring, we need to be very careful with titles, as most of the times, they don’t matter. Skills and experience always beat the ego of a well written job title.

  • Bob Gately August, 23, 2017

    There are many factors to consider when hiring talent but first we need to define talent unless “hiring talent” means “hiring employees.” Everyone wants to hire for talent but if we can’t answer the five questions below with specificity, we can’t hire for talent nor manage talent effectively.
    1. How do you define talent?
    2. How do you measure talent?
    3. How do you know a candidate’s talent?
    4. How do you know what talent is required for each job?
    5. How do you match a candidate’s talent to the talent demanded by the job?

    Employers need to assess for:
    – Cultural Match (Cultural Fit)
    – Skills Match (Job Competence)
    – Job Match (Job Talent)

    Some employers assess for all three.

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Guest August, 23, 2017