The Rise of Super Skills and Micro-Skills

Emily Heaslip, content writer at Vervoe

A recent article in the Financial Times signaled the end of education-based recruiting as we know it.

Hiring managers and recruiters have traditionally looked to a candidate’s GPA and the reputational background of their university or degree when making a hiring decision. But, too often these metrics are subjective and make it difficult to compare two candidates. Who’s to say whether a 3.8 GPA at Harvard is truly worse than a 3.9 GPA at Yale?

Either way, the GPA tells recruiters very little about a candidate’s ability to complete the job requirements. “GPA is an average of someone’s scholastic achievement. By definition, an average says very little—and, more critically, doesn’t answer the pivotal business question: ‘Can this person do this work or perform that task successfully?’” notes one blogger.

A list of degrees and qualifications actually offers very little information to help recruiters make the right hiring decision. Luckily, more and more talent acquisition specialists are starting to realize this and adjusting their recruitment strategy accordingly.

The problem: using education as a predictor of performance

Historically, the reputation of your educational institution could count in your favor as recruiters sought to compare the qualifications of entry-level candidates. But the job market has changed: the most in-demand skills of today are more specialized.

LinkedIn analyzed hundreds of thousands of job postings to determine the top skills employers were seeking in 2019. Hard skills and soft skills are equally valued by most companies, with the following 10 skills being the most commonly sought:

  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Analytical reasoning
  • People management
  • UX design
  • Creativity
  • Persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Time management

While some university courses can offer background in some of these skills – cloud computing and artificial intelligence, for instance – educational institutions are slow to adapt to the changing needs of the job market. Hackerrank, for instance, pointed out the skills gap that recent university computer science graduates face. In 2018, JavaScript was the most well-known and popular coding language. But, student developers aren’t learning JavaScript; it simply isn’t offered at most computer science programs.

Even when a student graduates with top marks, companies are finding an obvious skill gap between academic performance and real-world experience. “More than a third of companies warn that graduates with no previous work experience are unlikely to be successful, irrespective of their academic achievements or the university they attended, according to High Fliers Research,” writes the Financial Times.

How is recruiting evolving?

If educational reputation or grades are not a good predictor of on-the-job success, what can recruiters do improve how they screen candidates?

Google, Apple, and IBM are just a few top companies that no longer require applicants to have a college degree. Instead, companies are turning to skill tests to help evaluate each applicant in the hiring process. Coding challenges, mock sales calls submitted via one-way video interview, and immersive task-related scenarios all provide an accurate assessment of how well a candidate can perform the requirements of the job.

Categories: Recruitment

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