Four steps to writing a skills-based job posting

As we wait to see the economic implications surrounding the new Coronavirus pandemic, one thing is for sure: Employers succeed when they hire people with the right skills. To find the skilled talent they need it is critical for employers to adopt innovative hiring practices. Skills-based hiring practices (SBHP) are what today’s digital economy demands, these practices can help businesses: reduce costs and time-to-hire, fill open positions faster, increase diversity, and improve employee retention and engagement.

At Skillful, we often get asked by employers what the first step to adopting SBHP is and our answer is always the same: We encourage them to attend one of our SHRM-certified Skillful Talent Series trainings, where they will receive step-by-step guidance on skills-based practices. For those who can’t wait until the next training to start implementing SBHP (we like your enthusiasm!), we tell them the best place to start is by changing their job posting from one that relies on credentials like degrees or years of experience, to a skills-based posting. This answer usually merits the question “how do I write a skills-based job posting?” and that question inspired this blog.

We’re going to start off by briefly describing the difference between a pedigree job posting and a skills-based job posting:

Graphic explaining differences between a pedigree job posting and a skills-based job posting.

Now that you know the difference here are four steps to writing your own skills-based job posting:

Remove unnecessary credential requirements

Often degrees and work experience are used in job postings to assume skill sets, but the degree requirements alone drastically narrow talent pools by eliminating two-thirds of the American workforce who don’t have a degree. When possible, employers should look to remove these unnecessary requirements.

Are there other ways for people to learn the same skills other than the degree?

This is a question Trevor Pruitt, Manager of our Employer initiative, often asks his training attendees and it’s the same question you should ask yourself when deciding what credential requirements are necessary.

We are aware that in some industries, specific credentials and certifications are required. For example, safety certifications are legally required in manufacturing and construction, and clinical healthcare positions require degrees. In these cases, credentials should be used in addition to competencies.

Identify competencies for the job

To create a skills-based job posting understanding what the role entails and what skills candidates need is crucial. For this step, it is important employers explore the two primary types of competencies and understand the difference between them.

Occupational Competencies

Often referred to as “hard skills,” these competencies are the technical skills a person needs to perform occupational-specific tasks and duties.. For example, a software developer’s ability to code.

Foundational Competencies

Also known as “soft skills,” these competencies are professional knowledge and skills that are transferable from one job to another and across industries. For example, the ability to communicate effectively is a foundational skill for anyone leading a team.

To identify the competencies for the job:

  1. Define the job duties of those in the same position or duties that need to get done in the future.
  2. Connect the duties to the knowledge or skills someone must possess in order to achieve their tasks.
  3. Define what each competency means to each specific position in terms of knowledge, skill, and ability.
  4. Confirm these competencies and descriptions with those currently successful in the role and their managers.

Understand the difference between required competencies and preferred competencies

Required competencies are necessary to perform essential job duties; therefore, a candidate must have them on day one to complete job responsibilities. Preferred Competencies, on the other hand, can be trained during onboarding and/or are used to perform non-essential job duties. With a clear understanding of the difference between required and preferred competencies in the unfilled role, we recommend employers choose 4-6 required and 3-4 preferred competencies to highlight in their job posting.

Update your old job postings and find great talent!

We are aware of how important creating a skills-based job posting is for the implementation of skills-based hiring practices, that’s why we created the Skillful Job Posting Generator. This free tool allows employers to skip all of the steps outlined in this blog and quickly and easily write a skills-based job positing. If you are ready to deepen your talent pool and start hiring by skills click here.