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Changing to a Skill-Based Hiring Model: Why It's Important and Why Verifiable Skills Are Essential

Recruitment | 6 Min Read

Changing to a Skill-Based Hiring Model: Why It’s Important and Why Verifiable Skills Are Essential


The skills gap is a significant problem in the industry due to a substantial mismatch in relevant skills and degrees acquired by professionals. As a result, businesses have started looking for people with specific talents rather than specific degrees to fill vacancies. The need for skill-based hiring is increasing.

Hiring is not as simple as you think. You have to make sure you are hiring somebody who will be a great fit in the kind of employee tribe you’re building.

Even without a degree, professionals with the necessary skills can find relevant job roles and increase their income. People who have degrees without the required abilities are facing difficulties in getting work. Hence, this blog will discuss verifiable skills and why employers prefer role-based hiring.


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Why do companies favor skill-based hiring?

Choosing employees based on their abilities and talent rather than their education and credentials is known as skill-based hiring.

Tim Cook used the example of Steve Jobs, a college dropout. Companies like Apple, Google, Hilton, IBM, and Netflix recruit applicants without a certificate or degree from a four-year college.

of IT technicians employed by top organizations do not have a four-year degree. (LinkedIn)

For businesses of any size, skill-based hiring is the greatest method to establish credibility and achieve objectives like engagement and talent retention.


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It encourages diversity

Traditional hiring processes place non-degree holders at a significant disadvantage. Skill-based hiring gives everyone, degree-holder or not, an equal opportunity. This helps improve diversity in the workplace because people with the right skill set are hired, eliminating other biases like degree, certification, background, etc.

Saves time and money

You can rapidly locate and hire qualified people using skill-based hiring to increase your talent pool. Therefore, this hiring strategy gives you experienced and talented professionals while reducing overall recruitment costs.

Improves worker retention

Employing people based on their skills impacts how candidates view your company. It attracts corporate professionals with the necessary expertise and skills to produce the best workplace outcomes.

Reduces skills gap

If you are employing candidates with a certificate or degree, there’s a chance you are increasing your company’s skills gap. There are professionals without a degree who can achieve better. Considering these candidates help you employ talented people and ensure a consistent and favorable productivity outcome throughout the workplace.


What do the numbers on skill-based hiring indicate?

According to studies, hiring managers value abilities more than a college degree.

A new LinkedIn research about skills-based hiring reinstates:

  • 89% of recruiters believe that skill-based assessments contribute to correctly hiring a candidate.
  • 85% of professionals agree that in the future, skills would hold more weightage in hiring than other factors.
  • 24% of candidates stated that they faced difficulty in landing a job interview even when they had 100% of the skills needed for the role.

These statistics reveal the current mismatch in the hiring process. While hiring managers prefer onboarding candidates based on their skills, it is hard to correctly assess skills or overlook the degree (or certification) aspect.


The shift from a degree-based hiring to a skills-based hiring model

Degrees were once thought to be the only way to assess a candidate’s suitability for a position and ability to perform well. This attitude is slowly changing in the last few years. Employers now favor procedures that are based on skills due to the following reasons:


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Lower unemployment score

Employers can fill positions more rapidly, and the job market can expand if educational qualifications for positions in their organizations are less stringent.

Widening the talent pool

By solely considering candidates with college degrees, employers run the risk of overlooking quality candidates. Employing people based on their skills can help the talent pool grow, including applicants who are just as qualified as those with degrees.

Promotes fair and unbiased hiring

Skills-based hiring incorporates fair and unbiased hiring in the recruitment process. A candidate’s actual skills and competencies are what is needed to find the best person for the job.

Lesser risk of wrong hiring

Hiring people with the right competencies and skills rather than degrees can minimize the risk of hiring the wrong candidate.


Importance of verified skills of the candidates

To ensure the candidate has the right skills, verifying the candidate’s credentials, work experience, and certificates is essential. This is an optimum approach to correct hiring because the candidate needs to exhibit these skills in real-life scenarios. Therefore, an item on the CV or resume of the candidate can’t indicate that the candidate possesses these skills.

Hiring managers should use recruitment tools like Mercer | Mettl’s Lateral Hiring or Talent Assessments to gauge a candidate’s skills. These tools verify the candidate’s ability to function in a high-pressure, driven, and technical environment based on the requirements of the job role.

The performance of the individual is affected by various things, such as their soft skills, personality, communication, and technical aptness. Using appropriate tools to assess these factors helps identify professionals who fit the job role or have the potential to work effectively.


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How to shift to skill-based hiring?

1. Conduct a skills gap analysis

The first step is understanding the skills requirements for different positions and job roles.

Mercer | Mettl helps analyze the skills gap in the workforce by first understanding the organization’s skill requirements. The assessment identifies specific skill sets in employees and focuses on improving these skills in people.

Tools that can be customized to identify the skills gap in your workforce are:

  • A role-based platform for hiring candidates
  • Coding simulators to test the candidate’s coding skills
  • Online and offline assessments to test employees
  • A tool to assess the candidate’s learning ability

2. Rewrite job descriptions

Once you have identified the skills gap in the organization, you can either create a plan to upskill existing professionals or hire new professionals with relevant skills or both. Most organizations fill the skills gap by upskilling and nurturing existing employees while hiring correctly in the future.

Therefore, to hire skilled employees in the future, it is necessary to rewrite job descriptions. Rather than highlighting the requirements in the form of degrees, add significant merits, competencies, and skills that you need in a candidate. Indicate actual tasks that candidates need to complete to excel in the job role.

3. Shift focus to skills

Usually, managers, team leaders, and top performers successfully understand the intricate details of working in a job role. When hiring candidates, creating job descriptions, or finalizing competencies, tap into the expertise of these professionals for the right hiring. Gather details from these individuals and convert skills requirements into actionable hiring information.

The next step would include matching these skills with the candidate’s current skill set. Regardless of if the candidate has worked in the same industry, field, or role, they may still possess these skills.


How can Mercer | Mettl help in skill-based hiring?

Evaluating a candidate’s skills is a crucial component of the hiring process. Mercer | Mettl offers a variety of examinations to identify a candidate’s abilities based on their skills. The candidate may be put to the test by submitting a sample of their writing, solving a problem, and presenting a project.

Here are some tests that Mercer | Mettl offers that help in hiring candidates based on their skills:


1. Pre-employment tests


Mercer | Mettl’s pre-employment tests measure the candidate’s skills. They conduct personality, behavioral, cognitive, technical, coding, and communication skills assessments.

A comprehensive pre-employment strategy tests a candidate’s core traits and acquired skills, such as:

  • Personality traits - Thoughts, behavior, and emotions
  • Behavioral tendencies for a successful workplace performance
  • Reasoning and problem-solving skills
  • Role-specific skills and technical competence
  • Coding skills and knowledge to solve problems with code
  • Communication skills to convey thoughts


2. Lateral hiring


Mercer | Mettl offers scientific lateral hiring assessments to find a candidate with the right cultural fit. The assessments measure the traits and acquired skills of the candidate.

A suite of tools customized to hire the right talent includes:

  • Scientifically validated assessments to assess a candidate’s behavior, cognition, and technical competency
  • Online hackathons for seamless engagement and innovation
  • AI-powered tool to evaluate the candidate’s English-speaking skills
  • Real-world coding simulators to test front-end, back-end, and full-stack


A candidate’s highest level of education and prior experience point to a good fit for the position. Yet, employers must confirm whether the individual has the necessary abilities or not. For this reason, businesses are changing their hiring practices to adapt to a challenging landscape where having a degree doesn’t prove the presence of a relevant skill set.

The use of skill assessment tests in the employment process aids hiring managers in determining a candidate’s practical abilities, problem-solving abilities, and level of learning. In this article, we’ve covered how the traditional degree-based hiring model has been shifting towards skills-based hiring and how the Mercer | Mettl platform may help.



How do you identify the skills needed for a specific job?

Skill or degree: What matters more for hiring managers?

How will the future of work look?

What is skill-based work?

How do you adopt skills-based hiring practices?

Originally published November 11 2022, Updated November 11 2022

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About This Topic

The primary objectives of recruitment and selection are to ensure high-quality candidates who are culturally fit and work toward shared organizational goals and vision.

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