For many years, education and experience have operated as stand-ins for employers’ true needs: Skills and the applicants who have them.
While this method once worked to help hiring teams manage the workload of screening, it is no longer necessary or useful today. Instead, hiring teams that harness the right AI-enabled tools can screen for skills, bypassing the shorthand of credentials to focus on what really matters to success in the role and organization.
From Credentials to Capabilities
Traditional hiring processes handled dozens or even hundreds of applications for various positions, and all the work of screening and hiring was done by humans. As a result, hiring teams developed a number of shortcuts for determining which applicants stood the best chance of doing well in the job. One such form of shorthand is using credentials as a stand-in for skills, writes LeAnn Wilson, executive director of the Association for Career and Technical Education.
Looking for credentials like a college degree or a training certification is one way that hiring teams of the past managed an influx of applications. By treating educational credentials as shorthand for certain skill sets, human resources teams could make the work of sorting applications and screening candidates more manageable.
Today, however, two things have changed. First, human resources professionals understand that there is no perfect correlation between a credential and a particular skill or capability. Some candidates have an educational credential but not a particular skill set; some candidates have the skills, but not the corresponding credential. While interest in alternative credentials has sought to fill this gap, writes Paul Fain in Inside Higher Ed, concerns remain about the use of credentials as shortcuts.
Second, hiring teams don’t have to do their screening by human power alone. Advanced and ever-refining human resources tools, including those that use artificial intelligence, can sort through applications far more quickly than individuals could do in the past. These tools can also focus on skills directly, rather than relying on credentials as shorthand for skills, resulting in more inclusive screening.
Approaches for a Skills-Focused Hiring Process
A good inclusive screening process begins with a job posting that focuses on skills, not credentials.
When a job posting asks for a certain education level or certification, it filters out applicants who may have the necessary skills, but who lack the requested credential. That talent may have everything they need to thrive within an organization, but bias in the hiring process eliminates them outright. Organizations like OneTen suggest “focusing on competencies, in an aim to close the opportunity gap.”
In the past, hiring teams did the best they could to explain the needs and demands of each role based on the information they gathered while creating job descriptions. Many of their methods, like talking to those who hold the position, still provide valuable perspectives on the necessary skills for each job.
Today hiring teams have another tool in their kit. An AI-enabled hiring platform can analyze large pools of data gathered both inside and outside the organization. The AI can spot patterns in this data and analyze those patterns. Through the use of predictive analytics, hiring teams can even gain insight into how an applicant with a particular skill set or pattern of skills might perform in roles other than the one for which they’re applying — allowing hiring teams to envision an applicant’s entire career with an organization, not just their performance in a single role.
Widening candidate searches can also improve the inclusivity of the hiring process, writes Tess C. Taylor at AIHR Academy. By diversifying the places in which job postings appear, an organization can reach applicants it might not have otherwise.
In the past, hiring teams often hesitated to widen a search because it meant more work for the team. Because AI can handle a larger range of data, it can support a widened candidate search without unduly burdening human resources staff. The right platforms can also help manage job postings automatically, making it easier to reach a wider audience.
Past practices for screening applicants responded to the limitations faced when human hiring teams had to handle every task on their own. Aided by AI, however, hiring teams can retire some of these old practices in favor of more inclusive screening when seeking talent.
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