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The hiring process isn’t just about filling vacancies quickly. It’s about finding the right talent and skills to drive substantial and sustainable business growth.

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Skills-based hiring underpins inclusive recruitment

In the ever-evolving talent acquisition arena, there's a transformative shift at play - the rise of skills-based hiring. But what is the skills-based approach to recruitment, why is it only now becoming popular, and how does it unlock organisational diversity, engagement and team performance at scale? Let's find out.

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What is a skills-based approach?

A skills-based approach is a way of hiring that shifts from evaluating candidates based on their job titles or previous roles to assessing their core competencies and abilities. This approach centres a candidate's skills and their potential over their experience.

What is a skills-based job description?

A skills-based job description emphasises the specific transferable skills, behaviours and technical capabilities required for the role.

A skills-based job description usually consists of matrixed skills in order of priority, not a list of ideal functional requirements.

88% of hiring managers report that they’re hiring candidates with strong transferable skills and upskilling them on the job.

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What is a skills-based approach in HR?

Current talent acquisition and management processes have resulted in over 70% of people having the wrong skills for their current jobs. The knock-on effects of this are motivation, productivity, engagement and, ultimately, retention being at all-time lows.


But there is hope on the horizon. More and more HR and People teams are becoming aware of the astronomical benefits of data-rich, skills-based talent approaches because they shift dependency from personal judgements to quantifiable and auditable metrics, enabling better decision-making from talent acquisition to reward and recognition and learning and development to diversity and inclusion. 

Skills gap - 70% of people don't have the right skills for their jobs - Gartner Study.png
A skills-based approach builds the most successful, high-performing teams.

As jobs evolve in response to technological advancements and changing market demands, employees' skill sets are also adapting - for example, many of the qualities you looked for in Sales leaders ten years ago won't be the same today.


But without a clear view of the most important skills gaps to fill, many organisations remain in a highly competitive environment for talent, lack the insights to get ahead of this new paradigm and aren't building the high-performing teams necessary to navigate it.


At Clu, we always say everyone has skills; we just need to get better at recognising them. By shifting focus from experience-matching to skills-matching in the hiring process, you not only optimise the resources of your hiring teams, you gain a 360 view of candidates by the time they join. This enables you to develop them in the most intentional way and significantly negate the negative cultural and budgetary side-effects of hiring the wrong people into the wrong roles.

“We have a skills-based talent strategy, focusing on four areas: sales, service and support, operations and software development. We have jobs in every single one of those categories that do not require degrees”

Bank of America SVP of Talent Acquisition

Christie Gragnani-Woods.

The benefits of skills-based hiring to Talent Attraction & Acquisition teams

Talent attraction and acquisition fuel an organisation's growth. The adoption of skills-based hiring can revolutionise these processes, improving time to hire, representation and accuracy, making them more targeted and efficient. Here are some of our favourite benefits of skills-based hiring:

Better Candidate Matching
Traditionally, job descriptions focus on educational qualifications and industry experience. However, in skills-based recruitment, organisations craft job descriptions around the skills required for a role within the context of the existing skills gaps in a team. This approach attracts candidates who possess the best potential to improve the dynamics and cognitive diversity of their team.

For example, if a software developer role requires proficiency in a specific programming language and team management and development skills, as the rest of the rest are weaker in these areas, a skills-based job description would highlight these key skills, attracting candidates with the skill set needed.


Expanded Talent Pools
Skills-based hiring promotes inclusivity by broadening the talent pool without lowering the bar. When companies prioritise skills over specific qualifications or career paths, they can tap into a more diverse range of candidates. This inclusivity is especially critical in industries facing a shortage of talent.


For example, in the technology sector, where there is a scarcity of experienced female developers, a skills-based approach can identify candidates with the requisite coding skills, regardless of where they learned to code.

Enhanced Candidate Experience
A skills-based approach places candidates at the centre of the recruitment process. By assessing candidates based on their skills and potential rather than just their CVs, organisations can use systems like Clu to identify candidate suitability quickly and offer specific feedback in a much more meaningful and timely way.


For example, a candidate might not have three of the six top skills required for a job. In a skills-based hiring process, this candidate could be stood down with a simple explanation of this instead of a generic response. This simplifies the feedback process for resourcing teams but vastly improves the experience of unsuccessful candidates.

Unbiased Evaluation
Skills-based hiring streamlines the evaluation of candidates during interviews but also is the most important element of a bias-free and fair hiring process. Interviewers can focus their questions on specific skills, competencies, and behavioural traits relevant to the role and score them against the skills matrix. This approach ensures that interviews are more structured and consistent, making it easier to identify top talent and mitigate preference-led bias.


For example, in a customer service role, interviewers might assess a candidate's problem-solving skills by presenting a hypothetical customer scenario and evaluating their ability to resolve it rather than relying solely on past customer service experience, scoring their answer on a scale of 1-10.


Incorporating a skills-based approach into talent attraction and acquisition strategies not only simplifies the selection process but also ensures that candidates who possess the skills essential for success are quickly identified and engaged.


Ultimately, skills-based hiring positions talent acquisition teams to build teams that are agile, diverse, and well-equipped to navigate the challenges of today's dynamic business landscape.

Most employers (81%) believe they should prioritise skills over degrees, but 52% still hire from degree programs because they believe it’s a less risky choice.

The benefits of skills-based hiring across HR teams

In HR and People teams, moving to the skills-based approach has brought about several notable advantages in more than just recruitment.


Skills-based hiring helps the entire function's objectivity by shifting the focus from opaque, opinion-based decision-making to a focus on quantifiable, data-backed decision-making. This consistently leads to fairer and more inclusive hiring practices, as individuals are consistently evaluated across the employee lifecycle on what they need to be able to do and whether or not they can do it.


In HR, transitioning to a skills-based approach can usher in a new era of data-enabled decision-making and effective talent management. Let's explore how this approach can revolutionise key HR functions:

People Experience

Skills-based decision-making enables People professionals to understand employees on a deeper level. By analysing the skills each employee possesses and their potential for growth, HR can tailor development plans that align with individual strengths and career aspirations. For example, if an employee excels in project management skills but lacks in data analysis, HR can create learning pathways and mentoring opportunities that address this specific need. This personalisation enhances the overall employee experience, leading to higher engagement and job satisfaction.​

Diversity and Inclusion

A skills-based approach can be a game-changer for diversity and inclusion efforts. Instead of focusing solely on traditional qualifications or industry experience, People teams can identify candidates from diverse backgrounds with transferable skills relevant to a given role. This widens the talent pool and fosters greater diversity in applicant pools. For instance, we'll wait while you find us a better project manager than a single parent.

Rentention - 73% of employees happy in their role and company after being hired through a

Organisational Design

Identifying skills gaps and addressing them effectively is paramount for an organisation's growth. Skills-based practices rely on data to pinpoint gaps between the skills employees have and those needed for their roles. This data-driven approach helps HR design targeted growth plans and get ahead of understanding whether skills academies need to be established or if talent pools already exist. 

Learning & Development

Mastery, autonomy and purpose are regularly cited as the greatest levers for motivating people, and this includes at work. Understanding an employee's strengths and growth areas is instrumental in boosting retention rates. A skills-based approach allows HR to create personalised career development plans that align with an employee's skills and aspirations. For example, if an employee desires a leadership role but lacks certain managerial skills, HR can offer mentorship or leadership training to help them achieve their career goals.

“Employers recognise that with the current talent shortage, skills-based hiring is the best approach for a wide range of roles with significant high-volume need and higher-than-average turnover.”

Opportunity@Work Head of People and Culture

Angela Briggs-Paige.

In the quest to get great at skills-based hiring, harnessing cutting-edge technology that can support your transformation journey is paramount. Enter Clu's inclusive recruitment platform.


Clu helps companies excel in skills-based, inclusive hiring practices. By leveraging its data-driven insights and state-of-the-art skills-based features, you can move into skills-based hiring with lower risk and greater confidence.

Download our free guide

to skills-based hiring

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