Job Descriptions Should Center on Skills, Not Schools. Here’s Why:

March 30, 2023

In a constantly evolving professional climate, it is essential that your hiring practices adapt as well. In today’s world where there is an endless array of educational qualifications available, it can be tempting to rely solely on these qualifications as a way to vet potential employees. While education is an important aspect of an individual’s professional journey, it shouldn’t be the only factor that determines their suitability for a job.

Instead, when hiring, managers should focus on the skills of potential candidates over their educational background. Skill is a term that encompasses the knowledge, competencies, and abilities to perform operational tasks. By focusing on skills, you open the door to greater diversity and a quicker, longer lasting return on investments.

Benefits of Centering on Skills

Hiring based solely on educational qualifications or experience can result in longer, sometimes overwhelming, learning curves. It can also translate to a culture of elitism that inhibits creativity and diversity. Hiring a candidate with the right skill set, but lesser educational qualifications, could result in quicker on-the-job engagement, quicker turnaround times on projects, and leads to higher retention rates as well.

Employees without a traditional four-year degree stay 34% longer than employees with such a degree, according to new LinkedIn data.

Many individuals who have not pursued tertiary education often possess excellent skills that are applicable to a wide range of industries. Skills-based recruiting tends to open the door to a bigger pool of candidates. By focusing on practical skills, recruiters employ a more diverse team, leading to a more creative and adaptable workplace culture.

Steps to Get Started

  • Clearly identify the skills needed for the job

Before writing a job description, outline the skills necessary to perform the job successfully. Be specific with the language to precisely outline expectations. Use action verbs such as “analyzing,” and “developing,” to describe work activities. You should care about what they can do — not where they’ve been.

  • Emphasize on-the-job training

Employers should provide on-the-job training opportunities to help employees develop the necessary skills to perform the job. This also promotes internal mobility by highlighting each open role’s key skills and mapping them to learning content focused on the same skills within your LXP or LMS.

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  • Encourage diversity and inclusion

Focusing on skills and experience in job descriptions can help encourage diversity and inclusion in the recruitment process. Employers should intentionally make the job description as inclusive as possible to attract a diverse range of qualified individuals.

Key Takeaway

While education is undoubtedly valuable, it should not be the primary aspect that managers use when hiring new talent. Skills-based recruiting can offer benefits that may have been overlooked in the past. When looking to hire new employees, employers should stress hiring candidates that possess the required skills and not just the educational qualifications. Doing this can result in quicker return on investment, higher productivity, and a workforce that is more diverse, broadening the perspectives of your company.


Written by

Amalia Swanson