Facing a labor market that has been incredibly tight for years, and a global talent pool where less than half of potential candidates hold a college degree, companies have expanded the search for talent beyond traditional applicants. That’s why some employers are overhauling recruitment strategies and eliminating college degree requirements in favor of skills-based hiring.  

Between 2017 and 2019, employers reduced degree requirements for 46% of middle-skill and 31% of high-skill positions. The pandemic accelerated this trend, especially in hard-to-hire industries like Software Engineering, UX Design and Data Analytics. Major technology companies like Alphabet (Google), Meta, Netflix, Airbnb, IBM and Apple have since dropped degree requirements for many technical roles. 

If you are ready to consider overhauling our approach to recruiting your tech talent, read on for the download on skills-based hiring. 

What is skills-based hiring, and why is it better?

Skills-based hiring refers to the practice of evaluating a candidate’s abilities and knowledge based on their specific skills and expertise, rather than their academic credentials, certifications or work experience. This approach is designed to provide a more accurate assessment of a candidate’s ability to succeed in their role. 

There are multiple benefits to skills-first recruitment, including:

Skills-based hiring = a long-term talent pipeline

Companies need to think about building a long-term, future-proofed talent pipeline. Veteran tech workers with traditional college degrees and years of experience are in high-demand, so it’s time to start thinking about how you can create your own talent pool from high-potential candidates that you might not typically think of. 

ServiceNow, for example, partnered with General Assembly to build a talent pipeline that helped the company meet its DEI goals. It started with a 6-month apprenticeship program meant to serve as a pathway to full-time employment. General Assembly helped ServiceNow connect with career changers who don’t come from traditional tech backgrounds, but were attending bootcamps or courses to gain skills in areas like UX and product design. Many of them have gone on to succeed in full-time roles within the organization. 

“You’ll be pleasantly surprised and inspired by the fact that there is really, really great talent out there, just waiting for that chance to show how much they can contribute and how much they can make your product or the way you work even better by diversifying your workforce,” said Kurdin Bazaz, Staff Design Program Manager at ServiceNow on advice for companies embarking on their own skills-based hiring journey. “Take that one step and start small. You don’t have to start really, really big. Start small. Test your concept, modify it, pivot.”

How to adopt skills-based hiring practices

Overhauling your recruitment strategy might sound overwhelming, but as Bazaz pointed out, there are small steps you can take to integrate skills-based hiring into your approach that will lead to big wins down the line. Here are some suggestions: 

At General Assembly, we’re graduating job-ready tech talent everyday and building sustainable talent pools for businesses across the globe. If you’re ready to explore how General Assembly can help you attract and retain diverse talent, get in touch.