Get in touch

Revolutionising Recruitment: Embracing Skills-based Hiring for Future Success

Have you ever seen a job advert that excites you, that offers the opportunities that you are looking for, and that matches your skill set perfectly, but have been unable to apply because you don’t have the formal qualifications that it demands?

This is a frustrating situation to be in and one which unfairly disadvantages competent applicants and could hinder the business aiming to fill the vacancy. All too often, a candidate who has the qualifications required may not have the on-the-job experience necessary to perform in-role.

Skills-based hiring is different

Historically, it was common that a life sciences job advert listing the desirable skills of the successful applicant would be accompanied by a requirement for formal qualifications. There would be little or no flexibility to consider a highly skilled candidate whose experience was gained through informal means.

Skills-based hiring is different. By prioritising the skills and experience that are necessary to excel in a given role over the means by which those skills have been acquired or where the experience has been gained, it is possible to access a wider talent pool, improve diversity and create a culture of success.

Benefits of skills-based hiring

Both established and early stage European biotech companies can benefit from implementing skills-based hiring. This agile hiring method allows all candidates to be assessed on their merits and does not preclude anyone merely because they do not hold a particular qualification.

In assessing candidates on the skills that they possess and the experience that they have gained through previous training, employment, or voluntary activities, it is possible to improve diversity, raise productivity and increase employee engagement.

Should a formal qualification be required to access bonuses or to progress within the organisation, this could become a condition of employment, with the successful candidate being provided with the time, training and funding that is required to acquire said qualification within a given period of time.

Biotech companies that invest in their staff and prioritise their well-being benefit from markedly improved retention rates as employees whose roles align with their skills, abilities and interests experience greater levels of job satisfaction. Those who are offered opportunities for career progression and formal training will often be more loyal to their employer, contributing to the overall success of the organisation.

How to start skills-based hiring

For companies that are entrenched in tradition, making the move to skills-based hiring can seem somewhat daunting, but it need not be. There is absolutely no need to discard previous processes or to start again from scratch. Instead, HR departments that wish to increase hiring success statistics, workplace diversity, employee satisfaction and staff retention should consider the skills that their listed qualifications are designed to instil and list these instead of the qualifications themselves.

They should speak with those members of staff who are already performing similar roles to identify the skills and attributes that they deem essential for incoming personnel and consider the future direction of the role and the career opportunities that it could offer an incumbent to determine the type of person that they are aiming to appeal to.

It is important to consider not only the professional and technical skills that a successful candidate must demonstrate but also their soft skills. If the role involves pitching for venture capital investment or briefing at corporate events, their communication skills will need to be tested and deemed appropriate prior to hiring them.

Likewise, startup and scaleup organisations with smaller workforces will require that their employees collaborate and work together effectively, sharing knowledge and experience to benefit the organisation as a whole and to help it achieve its mission and goals. It is essential that any new starters who are recruited share this vision and demonstrate strong teamworking and problem-solving abilities.

Forward-thinking organisations could scale their hiring process by implementing AI-based candidate assessments which consider only the applicants’ skills rather than the method by which those skills were acquired. This could be in the form of pre-qualification questionnaires or competency assessments, allowing only candidates who possess the requisite skills to progress through to human assessment and interview stages.

It is recommended that new incumbents are supported in their roles through targeted onboarding and training programmes, which help them to develop their skills and to adapt to their new roles and responsibilities. This could involve informal team-building activities which support them in embedding into the culture of the organisation or formal training to help them secure any qualifications or credentials that are necessary to pursue their long-term career aspirations.

Testing a candidate’s skills

Whilst adapting the hiring process to appeal to a wider talent pool is an essential first step towards implementing skills-based hiring, it is essential that organisations pursuing this route consider the way in which they will assess and test each candidate’s skills to ensure that the people that they hire will satisfy the needs of the organisation.

The tests that are applied must be fair, achievable by those with the necessary levels of experience and competence and must be free from bias. It may be necessary to redact names, gender and ethnicity clues from applications prior to assessing skills and to ensure that the interview panel follows a clearly defined process and applies the same scoring criteria to each and every applicant they meet.

By maintaining transparency throughout the entire hiring process, achieving the goals of improved diversity and greater productivity can become a reality.

In conclusion

By embedding this cultural shift into the hiring process, it is possible to access a wider talent pool, identify a greater number of skilled applicants and position the organisation for success as it continues to pursue biotech innovation and navigate a complex regulatory and legislative landscape.

If you’d like to speak to one of our life science recruitment experts, please contact us today or Book a Consultation at a time and date to suit you.


If you found this insight interesting, we recommend reading Want to be ‘irresistible’ to talent? Rethink your benefits strategy

ScaleX Consulting offer trusted biotech business consulting and life science recruitment services, to help you take the next step in your journey.