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While degree-based hiring has been the traditional approach, the latest trend in IT recruitment is skill-based hiring. The shift in emphasis from academic qualifications to technical abilities has driven this rise of skill-based hiring in the IT industry and is becoming increasingly preferred over traditional degree-based hiring practices due to its many advantages and benefits.
Increasingly, employers need to ensure that they are hiring the right people with the right skills in today’s technology-driven world, and while degrees can provide solid theoretical knowledge, they do not necessarily reflect an individual’s practical skills. Although many highly skilled IT professionals may not have gone through traditional educational paths, they possess the skills and experience necessary to succeed in their jobs.
On the other hand, skill-based hiring focuses on assessing an individual’s skills and experience rather than just their educational qualifications. There is a high chance that some applicants may even exaggerate or fabricate their qualifications to get an interview if the Job Description focuses on the traditional requirements, which can lead to costly mistakes being made during recruitment that could have easily been avoided with more rigorous screening processes such as those used in skill-based hiring. In fact, simply by focusing on skills rather than degrees, businesses can broaden their pool of potential candidates — which can be extremely beneficial at a time when top talent is scarce, and identify “star” individuals who have the necessary skills but lack formal education.
Recruiting based on skills extends beyond the private sector. The state of Maryland, for instance, announced that nearly 50% of their jobs would not require four-year college degrees. – Forbes
The downfall in demand for traditional degree-based hiring has led to a surge in assessing applicants’ suitability for roles within organizations more effectively, as skill-based testing allows employers to see an individual’s abilities and make better decisions about who to hire, making sure that the right set of skills and knowledge are present, which leads to higher productivity levels and improved performance within organizations.
In this blog, we will explore skill-based and degree-based hiring in IT recruitment and which approach is best suited to you, and some tips that will help you successfully recruit skilled and seasoned IT resources. Whether you are a business looking to recruit IT talent or an individual seeking to enter the industry, this blog post will provide valuable insights into the difference between skill-based hiring and degree-based hiring and which one to go for.
Skill Based Hiring
Degree Based Hiring
|Identifies candidates with practical skills and experience relevant to the IT role.
|May be suitable for entry-level roles where practical experience is less critical.
|Enables faster onboarding and productivity, as candidates are already equipped with the required skills.
|Simplifies initial screening by relying on academic degrees as a benchmark for qualifications.
|Better aligns with the dynamic nature of the IT industry, where skills and certifications are critical.
|Provides a traditional and familiar approach for evaluating candidates.
Skill Based Hiring
Degree Based Hiring
|May require additional effort and resources to conduct skill assessments and verify certifications.
|May not reflect the fast-paced and constantly evolving nature of the IT industry.
|May result in overlooking candidates with strong academic backgrounds but limited practical experience.
|May exclude candidates with relevant skills and experience who lack formal degrees.
|Could be subjective, as skill assessments and certifications may vary in quality and relevance.
|May not promote diversity and inclusion, as it could limit the candidate pool based on formal education alone.
Skill Based Hiring
Degree Based Hiring
|Cost-wise, it may require additional resources for skill assessments and certifications.
|Cost-wise, it may be cost-effective initially but could result in higher training costs for candidates lacking practical skills.
|May require more time upfront for skill assessments and verification, but it can lead to faster onboarding.
|May streamline initial screening but could result in longer training periods for candidates lacking practical skills.
|Tends to attract candidates with relevant skills and experience, leading to higher-quality talent.
|May exclude candidates with relevant skills but lacking formal degrees, potentially limiting the talent pool.
Technology advancements, changing trends, and emerging innovations require IT professionals to continuously update their skills and stay ahead of the curve. Traditional degree-based hiring may not effectively assess an individual’s ability to adapt and learn in such a rapidly changing landscape with new technologies, frameworks, and methodologies emerging regularly.
However, skill-based hiring has become increasingly important in IT as it focuses on a candidate’s practical abilities and experience, allowing companies to identify individuals with the right talent who can keep up with the industry’s pace.
While degree-based hiring can get you the “stamp of approval” in terms of theoretical and foundational knowledge, it may not always reflect on an individual’s practical skills, overall knowledge, and work experience(s) accurately. IT roles often require hands-on experience, on-the-job training, and specialized industry certifications that may not be acquired through formal education alone. Many highly skilled IT professionals may not have pursued traditional education paths but possess valuable skills and experience that make them suitable for specific roles.
By relying solely on degrees, companies may miss out on top talent who may not have formal education but possess relevant skills/experience because skill-based hiring takes into account an individual’s hands-on experience, relevant certifications, and practical abilities, providing a more comprehensive assessment of their suitability for a role – allowing companies to assess every candidate’s “actual” capabilities.
● Skill-based hiring can help improve employee retention, as candidates who possess the required skills are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and successful in their roles. Hiring individuals with the right skills and experience increases the likelihood of job satisfaction and success in their roles, helping companies build a skilled and stable workforce, reducing turnover costs, and maintaining productivity.
● Furthermore, companies are able to attract more diverse talents beyond those with formal degrees by tapping into a talent pool that may not have a conventional degree but possess relevant skills and experience through alternative pathways, such as self-education or boot camp/training(s). This also leads to a more inclusive and diverse workforce, bringing in fresh perspectives and innovative ideas.
● It should be an essential strategy in IT recruitment simply for the positive impact skill-based hiring can have on overall company performance! Identifying talent with practical skills and/or experience that aligns with the role is crucial for companies to ensure their IT teams are well-equipped to handle the dynamic nature of the industry, allowing them to minimize time spent on additional training and instead focus on driving performance, productivity, and business outcomes.
There are several best practices when it comes to implementing skill-based hiring that can help organizations effectively identify and acquire top talent. Here are some key strategies:
1. Define precise job requirements: Start by thoroughly defining the job requirements and skills needed for the specific IT roles. This includes understanding the technical skills, experience, and certifications necessary to excel in the position. Having a well-defined skill set will help you align your recruitment process.
2. Conduct thorough skill assessments: Utilize skill assessments as part of the recruitment process to objectively assess a candidate’s ability to perform on the job. These assessments can provide valuable insights into a candidate’s technical capabilities and help you evaluate their practical skills. This can include written tests, coding challenges, technical quizzes, practical simulations, or practical assessments. Consider using online coding platforms or customized assessments to assess technical skills and problem-solving abilities.
3. Focus on practical experience: Look for candidates who have relevant practical experiences in the IT field, such as internships, projects, or real-world work experience. Practical experience can be a strong indicator of a candidate’s ability to perform in a professional IT environment.
4. Consider cultural fit: In addition to technical skills, evaluate candidates for cultural fit within the organization. This includes their alignment with the company’s values, team dynamics, and overall work culture.
5. Provide opportunities for skills development: Consider candidates who may have potential but may lack very specific skills. Provide opportunities for skills development through training programs, mentoring, or online educational libraries and subscriptions to help candidates continuously grow and thrive in their roles.
Skill assessments and coding challenges are very important in IT recruitment (especially a skill-based one) as they objectively measure a candidate’s practical skills and experience accurately. These assessments can help organizations accurately assess a candidate’s proficiency in coding, problem-solving, debugging, creativity, and other essential skills.
Skill assessments and coding challenges also help employers identify candidates who are passionate about their craft and have a deep understanding of their field. They provide a fair and consistent way to evaluate candidates’ abilities and ensure that only qualified candidates progress in the hiring process.
Skill-based hiring has clearly become crucial in IT recruitment now, as 76% of employers employ some form of skills-based hiring to find new talent, with almost 55% using role-specific skills tests (according to TestGorilla’s The State of Skills-Based Hiring 2022 report).
Using this guide, employers can better identify candidates who have the skills and experience aligned with the role and the active nature of this industry. With a focus on hands-on experience, relevant certifications, and diverse talent, skill-based hiring can positively impact overall company performance.
Partnering with BorderlessMind can help you hire skill-based IT talent on demand. Contact BorderlessMind now for expert staffing assistance in IT recruitment and elevate your IT team’s success!
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