Companies can access more diverse talent with skills-based hiring

Skills-Based Hiring Helps Companies Access a Larger, More Diverse Talent Pool

Evaluating employees and new hires based on their skills instead of their work history or academic achievements is the future of hiring and development. According to LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky, “Companies that prioritize skills over “antiquated signals” like a degree or pedigree will help ensure that the right people can be in the right roles, with the right skills, doing the best work.”

While in recent years tech giants such as Apple, Google and Microsoft have dispensed with college degree requirements for many positions, companies like GM, Bank of America, Netflix and Tesla are following suit. What is fueling this trend?

An unprecedented worker shortage

The U.S. economy is facing massive worker shortages and historically low unemployment rates. As the demand for labor far exceeds supply, companies are struggling to find workers. This is putting significant pressure on hiring managers to fill open positions. According an article on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website titled Understanding America’s Labor Shortage (opens in a new window) , the current labor force participation rate is 62.2%, down from 63.3% in February 2020, which indicates that able workers are being overlooked or sitting on the sidelines. The article further states, “If every unemployed person in the country found a job, we would still have 4 million open jobs.” How are employers adapting to this difficult reality?

 Accessing an overlooked talent pool

To address this situation, employers are reconsidering their hiring practices (opens in a new window) , which includes eliminating traditional degree and education requirements in lieu of prioritizing a candidate’s skills. By focusing instead on the hard and soft skills necessary to perform the responsibilities of the position, an employer broadens the talent pool to candidates who are most capable of meeting and exceeding job requirements. Additionally, dropping degree requirements facilitates the hiring of a more diverse group of employees.

According to the United States Census Bureau (opens in a new window) , 37.9 percent of those over 25 in the U.S. have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Eliminating this requirement opens the door to the other 62.1 percent.

Benefits of skills-based hiring

  • Increase the odds that you find the right person for the role.Skills-based hiring helps you avoid overlooking qualified candidates who come from a nontraditional career path. By administering skills tests during the hiring process, employers can identify candidates who are job ready and have the right skills for the job.
  • Skills-based hiring helps businesses improve retention. According to LinkedIn data, employees who do not have an academic degree stay with a company 34% longer than those with a four-year degree.
  • Helps build a more diverse workforce. Businesses, large or small, that have a diverse base of employees are better equipped to serve a diverse customer base. A diverse base of employees provides a broader knowledge of demographics to draw upon during decision-making, which results in enhanced creative thinking.

Case in Point: Dell Technologies

 Robert Simmons, Dell Technologies’ talent acquisitions senior manager comments from a National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) article: Dell Changes Definitions, Works With Community Colleges To Be More Inclusive Read the full article (opens in a new window) .

“While we hired people with associate degrees for certain job roles, we were really only focused on recruiting university graduates matriculating with a bachelor’s degree. That limited our talent pool, and we knew there was so much more talent out there.

The solution was to expand our definition of what we consider to be recent graduate talent to include associate degrees, apprenticeships, and certificate programs.

Employees don’t need an advanced degree or a business background for every job in tech. Coding or working on hardware doesn’t always require a four-year degree. Are there some skills that employees may need that are very specific, like a certain language to code in? Yes, but you can teach those within boot camps or apprenticeship-style programs. A bachelor’s degree may be something that employees go on to get later on, but it’s not necessary in order to gain access to the role itself.”


Additional articles related to this topic:

  1. Why Diversity and Inclusion are Critical to Your Organization’s Success (opens in a new window)
  2. Skill Standards Help Define Workplace Skills, Knowledge and Performance Expectations (opens in a new window)


For more information on technical degree programs, continuing education classes and IT certificates at the 34 Washington State community and technical colleges, please contact:

Brianna Rockenstire
Center of Excellence for Information & Computing Technology | 425.564.4229

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