How to Build an Inclusive Recruiting Process with Skills-Based Hiring

    As innovative companies seek to recruit top talent and create a competitive advantage, inclusive hiring practices are more important than ever before. Why? Top talent doesn’t just hail from target schools or well-established internship programs. Sometimes the best candidates come from underrepresented communities, face barriers to achieving perfect GPAs, or simply can’t afford top programs – yet they have the skills, knowledge, and perseverance to succeed in the workplace.

    To establish an inclusive recruiting process, organizations should stop or limit the practice of filtering out candidates based on non-predictive factors like GPA, school, and major. Instead, start attracting high-potential, diverse and non-traditional candidates by updating job descriptions to focus on the skills individuals need to succeed on the job, rather than credentials.

    Consider this: what matters most to your team is recruiting a candidate that will get the job done well. Follow these five steps to creating an inclusive recruitment practice with skills-based hiring.


    1. Establish the core competencies needed for the position. 

    Oftentimes, job ads include a list of responsibilities, but not the core skills needed to effectively manage those responsibilities. Pull in hiring managers, members of the interviewing team, and recruiters to determine the skills and competencies that a successful candidate will bring to the table. 

    Make sure all members of the team understand the criteria the team is seeking. This focus on predetermined criteria will help reduce bias, promote inclusive hiring practices, and create a fair process for each candidate.


    2. Reevaluate job requirements.

    If you’ve always required candidates to have a four-year college degree, a certain GPA or major, or other specific requirements, ask the hiring manager if those requirements are truly necessary. 

    When you’re committed to hiring someone with the right skills to succeed in the role, traditional credentials may not be necessary, and other experiences or characteristics can be the focus.


    3. State clear, specific goals. 

    For early-career candidates, especially those with limited connections to professional roles, a job description that is mainly focused on your company culture and vague information about the position becomes another barrier to applying. 

    LinkedIn research shows that candidates value the inclusion of specific, measurable performance goals in job postings. According to the study, job posts that mentioned “responsibilities” without mentioning “requirements” received 14% more applications per view than job posts that mentioned “requirements” but not “responsibilities.” 

    By outlining responsibilities, the core skills needed to take on those responsibilities, and clear goals of the position in your job description, diverse and underrepresented candidates are more likely to apply.


    4. Leverage experiential opportunities to assess candidate skills. 

    Beyond updating job descriptions, the next step to building an inclusive recruiting process is to effectively assess skills.

    The most reliable way to assess skills is to offer paid opportunities to work on actual projects. By working with candidates on Micro-Internships, you’ll be able to see both hard skills like software knowledge and technical abilities, as well as soft skills like problem-solving, communication, and adaptability. And for diverse candidates, paid, short-term, flexible projects overcome common barriers associated with traditional internships and unpaid “tests” that require a significant investment of time to complete.


    5. Evaluate candidates based on your skills-based hiring criteria. 

    As candidates complete Micro-Internships, take time to compare project feedback and results with the criteria you included in the job description. Your focus should be on determining whether the individual candidate can perform the job at or above the level that you and the team expect. 

    All employees who are involved in the interview or Micro-Internship project should take time together to discuss each candidate and their skills. You can help prevent bias by having several team members involved in the review process: rather than one or two people making a decision about a candidate, a team of diverse individuals can, through conversation, make a more nuanced decision. Be sure to focus the conversation on the skills and core competencies you determined to be critical to success in the role.

    Innovative organizations will continue to adopt more inclusive hiring practices to build successful teams, and hiring managers that rely on real work like projects done via Micro-Internships will see positive impacts on their inclusive recruiting efforts.