Rent a Recruiter is a trading name of Yala Consult Ltd. For more information visit our About Us page >>

Skills-First Hiring: An Essential Recruitment Strategy

Recruitment Blog | Recruitment Reports

January 1, 2024

HomeRecruitment BlogSkills-First Hiring: An Essential Recruitment Strategy
skills-first hiring An Essential Recruitment Strategy

Increase Your Talent Pool up to Tenfold with Skills-First Hiring

In an era dominated by daily headlines spotlighting the integration of robots and artificial intelligence across diverse industries, the prevailing talent shortage might seem less evident on the surface. But hiring skilled workers is undoubtedly a challenging endeavour in today’s job market.

As if to accentuate this challenge, numerous talent reports reaffirm this reality: 

Skilled Talent Scarcity:

A staggering 77% of employers globally struggle to find the skilled workforce they require in 2023 marking a significant increase from the 35% reported a decade ago. 

Based on the latest data released by Manpower. Communication services, energy and utilities, healthcare, life sciences, and information technology roles are among the most difficult to fill.

Impending Talent Deficit:

Projections estimate a deficit of 85.2 million workers by 2030.

Governments and organisations must make talent strategy a key priority. (Korn Ferry) Highly skilled workers are in short supply on a global level across all sectors, industries and geographical locations.

As the state of talent acquisition feels uncertain, top recruiters and organisations are looking for strategic solutions. The reality suggests a need for transformation as talent shortages are projected to increase over the next decade.


Embracing New Hiring Practices

In confronting this hiring crisis, it’s evident that a transformation is overdue. While talent and skills are indeed available, conventional recruitment methodologies struggle to cut through the noise. To address this, a shift in mindset is essential, heralding the era of skills-first hiring.


Adopting Skills-First Hiring

Skills-first hiring isn’t a magical fix for all recruitment issues but it is imperative in closing the talent gap in today’s job market. Organisations must adapt to new strategies to improve their hiring outcomes.


Reimagining the Recruitment Process 

The mainstream hiring process, it must be admitted, isn’t optimally designed to spot talent. The conventional way of sourcing, assessing, and shortlisting candidates fixates heavily on elements that indirectly represent the necessary skills. This often involves scanning CVs, conducting interviews, and making assumptions based on previous roles and experiences.

However, this method excludes a substantial pool of potential talent. The fixation on conditions like years of experience or specific job titles creates unnecessary barriers.


The Skills-First Approach

Skills-first hiring stands as a radical departure from the traditional process, focusing on a candidate’s skills that lead to success. By discarding certain criteria and priorities that once dominated, this approach expands the talent search to a diverse audience.

According to LinkedIn, adopting a skills-first approach can potentially increase the talent pool up to tenfold.


Implementing Skills-First Hiring: To truly embrace skills-first hiring, several steps must be taken to overhaul the hiring process.

Job Description Recommendations

Educational Requirements: Consider eliminating mandatory educational requirements, as 70% of jobs in the U.S. demand a bachelor’s degree, while only 37% of the workforce possesses one.

Years of Experience: Avoid specifying a range of years of experience, as it can be arbitrary and discriminatory.

Sectoral Experience: Rethink the necessity of sectoral experience, as it may overlook candidates with essential skills.

Strategic Sourcing Recommendations

Job Title Searches: Instead of relying solely on job titles, perform holistic profile searches for better results.

Related Skills: Utilise tools like LinkedIn to discover related in-demand skills for various roles.

AI and Synonyms: Employ generative AI to craft search strings with synonyms for your target skills.

Leveraging Talent Advisory

Data-Driven Decisions: Skills-first hiring might not be suitable for all roles; use data to assess feasibility. Utilise the expertise and guidance provided by professionals in the field of talent management and recruitment. Use their insights & recommendations to make informed decisions about hiring, skill assessment, and updating your talent acquisition processes.

Examples: Showcase instances where candidates succeeded despite lacking traditional qualifications.

Focus on Weaknesses: Understanding the skills lacking in underperformers can guide your skills-first search, these are the skills you need to be looking for with new candidates!

Free Masterclass Webinar:

Effective Skill Assessments

Replacing Degrees with Assessments: Employ online assessments for specific hard skills, eliminating degree requirements.

Assessing Soft Skills: AI-powered platforms like Pymetrics assess crucial soft skills for role success.

Promoting Skill Development: Discourage mandatory skills by emphasising that many skills can be developed in weeks or months.

Interviewing Strategies

Behavioural Interviewing: Structure interviews with TMAAT (tell me about a time) questions, ranking answers against predefined criteria.

Understanding the How: Delve into the candidate’s approach and methodology.

Situational Questions: Pose hypothetical scenarios to gauge problem-solving under different constraints.

Learning and Development

Skill Learning Time: Distinguish between skills that take weeks versus those requiring years to develop.

Mastery vs. Competence: Differentiate between achieving competence and mastery in certain skills.

Utilising L&D Resources: Explore available courses and tools to fill skill gaps and support candidates’ growth.

Nurturing Internal Mobility

Valuing Internal Talent: Internal hires tend to perform better and cost less than external hires.

Tracking Internal Talent: Maintain awareness of internal talent’s evolving skill sets.

Strategic Workforce Planning: Anticipate future skill needs and develop internal talents accordingly.


Amid the challenges of the present hiring landscape, change is happening. Notably, job postings on LinkedIn demanding degrees have dropped by 5% in the past year, reflecting evolving attitudes.

By adopting skills-first hiring, organisations can diversify their talent pool, enhance candidate quality, and bolster their pipeline. As hiring adapts to a skills-centric approach, the potential for better matching talent to roles becomes more promising.

For more information on how partnering with Rent a Recruiter can help drive your companies growth, contact our team today for a friendly chat.

Explore our FAQs on Skills-First Hiring

What is skills-first hiring?

Skills-first hiring is an approach that prioritises a candidate’s skills over traditional qualifications like degrees or job titles.

Why is skills-first hiring important?

Traditional hiring methods may exclude qualified candidates. Skills-first hiring widens the talent pool and identifies skills necessary for success.

How does skills-first hiring affect job descriptions?

Skills-first job descriptions focus on necessary skills rather than educational requirements or arbitrary experience ranges.

Can soft skills be assessed effectively?

Yes, emerging AI platforms can assess soft skills required for different roles.

What's the impact of skills-first hiring on internal mobility?

Skills-first hiring encourages internal talent development, minimising the need for expensive external hires.

View our full range of recruitment resources


Significantly Reduce your Cost Per Hire with our Flexible Monthly Membership