What Companies Get Wrong About Skills-Based Hiring | Harvard Business Review

Talent Acquisition

Many organizations are increasingly focusing on skills-based hiring, where they prioritize candidates’ skills over traditional credentials such as academic degrees. However, does eliminating degree requirements from job postings lead to increased hiring of candidates without degrees? A new study analyzing 11,300 roles at large firms, covering at least one year before and after the removal of degree requirements, found that for every 100 job postings without a college degree requirement, only fewer than four additional candidates without degrees are hired. One barrier is that hiring managers still rely on degrees as a proxy for skills due to the lack of alternative evaluation tools, perpetuating traditional hiring practices. Sectors like healthcare and IT succeed in skills-based hiring due to established certifications that serve as credible alternatives to degrees. The authors note, “Without practical guidance on how to evaluate a candidate’s skills, many hiring managers will naturally continue to use degree attainment as a convenient means for sorting through applicants and distinguishing among the final candidates, regardless of what their job ads actually require.” The research underscores that merely removing degree requirements isn’t sufficient by itself to bridge the gap between the intent and impact of skills-based hiring. The authors provide six practical steps to give managers the tools to make skills-based hiring a reality. As an additional resource, here is the 18-page report on which the article is based.