Hiring for Skills & Competencies: Insights from Tony de Graaf

Tony de Graaf talks about the significance of hiring for skills and competencies, as well as why it matters now more than ever.

Organisations are increasingly recognising the importance of assessing candidates based on their skills and competencies, as in the changing talent acquisition landscape CV-based hiring is losing its effectiveness. This shift aims to move away from solely relying on qualifications and job experience and instead focus on a more holistic evaluation of an individual’s capabilities.

At the Breaking Bias Summit, Tony de Graaf, the Global Director of Hiring Success at Smart Recruiters, delivered a session shedding light on the significance of hiring for skills and competencies. Here are the key takeaways from his talk.

What is hiring for skills and competencies?

Tony de Graaf defines it as looking beyond the candidate’s current skill set and assessing their ability to learn and develop new skills on the job

“We’re not just looking for candidates who tick all the boxes”, Tony explains, “We want to identify individuals who have the capacity to grow and adapt within the role.”

Why should we focus on skills and competencies?

To emphasise the significance of competencies in the hiring process, Tony outlines several reasons why organisations should prioritise this approach:

  1. One key advantage is the ability to tap into deeper talent pools. By expanding the criteria beyond the conventional CV, hiring managers can uncover hidden gems within their applicant base. Tony urges employers to reconsider their preconceived notions and explore candidates who may possess transferable skills or the potential to excel in the role.
  2. Moreover, hiring for skills and competencies leads to increased diversity within the candidate pipeline. Tony highlights this benefit, stating, “If we have a different lens and look beyond the usual criteria, we can bring in more candidates who would not have been considered otherwise.”
  3. With competencies as the foundation, organisations can streamline their recruitment processes. By pulling in a broader range of candidates, companies are more likely to find the right fit for their roles, ultimately increasing the hiring velocity

Why skill & competency-based hiring matters now more than ever?

The urgency to embrace skill and competency-based hiring practices arises from three primary factors:

  1. Firstly, organisations face a scarcity of talent and specific skills, making it increasingly challenging to achieve business goals. 59% of CEOs expect labour/skills shortage to disrupt their business strategy (Deloitte). Tony points out that “shortages of people or skills can significantly impact an organisation’s ability to execute its strategy.”
  2. Secondly, research from Fast Company reveals that companies that prioritise skills-based hiring are 60% more likely to successfully fill positions from their talent communities. This presents a clear advantage in a competitive market where securing top talent is critical for business success.
  3. Thirdly, a Harvard Business Review report states that 80% of leaders believe applicant tracking systems (ATS) filter out half of the highly-skilled candidates. This finding underscores the limitations of relying solely on automated systems and the need for a more nuanced approach to identify candidates’ skills and competencies accurately.

Skill & competency based hiring: where to get started

Implementing skill and competency-based hiring fully into your processes may require time and effort, where can you get started?

In the webinar below, Tony de Graaf together with Charlotte Melkert (Co-founder and CEO at Equalture), share best practices and strategies for implementing competency-based hiring and look at trends and innovations that can support this shift.

Bottom line – hiring for skills doesn’t require a complete overhaul of how you approach talent acquisition; rather, it requires refocusing and looking at the traditional hiring process through the lens of skills and competencies.

Read more: 4 Areas of comprehensive skill & competency assessment

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