Countdown to the HR Technology Conference: Skills-Based Hiring

It is hard to believe that the HR Technology Conference is only 8 weeks away. I love this conference and the opportunity to reconnect with friends and learn about new (and old) technology providers. I am thrilled to be presenting new research at the event and I will be posting a series of blogs leading up to September on TA tech trends.

This first post will focus on a topic that is gaining momentum in talent acquisition… skills-based hiring. Every provider seems to be using skills in their marketing messaging, but few providers have invested in a robust skills ontology and capabilities to improve both the employer and candidate experiences.

Skills are quickly becoming the currency for the future of work. A skills-based approach can help connect talent to the right opportunities, personalize the experience, and provide more visibility into the capabilities of the workforce. Employers benefit from improved efficiency and stronger talent pools, while individuals benefit from greater opportunities to control their career paths. Skills provide a roadmap for the future and a bridge between talent acquisition and talent management.

We published a study (in partnership with Beamery) and found that companies that invest in skills development are:

  • Twice as likely to improve retention
  • Thirty-four percent (34%) more likely to improve quality of hire
  • Twenty-eight percent (28%) more likely to improve DEI initiatives

Skills level the playing field for both internal and external talent. Evaluating skills means looking      beyond what is found on a resume or employee profile to get deeper insights about the individual. But, many companies are not always clear where to start with skills development. Lack of ownership and confusion around how technology fits in have added to this uncertainty. Talent marketplaces are gaining momentum as the vehicle to deliver a skills-based approach, yet not every company understands the impact of these solutions. For companies to compete for talent and provide fair and equitable experiences, skills must be part of the equation.

Here are some of the key findings from our research…

The Demand for Skills Is Being Driven From the Top: The focus on skills development is being driven by executives and CHROs. According to this study, 65% of CHROs say that upskilling and reskilling is the most important priority for 2022. CHROs are two times more likely to be involved in technology decisions that focus on skills than other areas of TA technology and 75% are interested in talent marketplaces to deliver on a skills strategy. CHROs are setting the course but oftentimes, talent acquisition and talent management must execute the strategy. Realistic expectations and clear communication will help these leaders achieve results and provide a more successful approach to skills.

Skills Unify a Talent Strategy: With equal pressure to recruit and retain, talent acquisition and talent management often still operate in silos with competing interests. A skills-based approach helps unify talent acquisition and talent management initiatives – providing consistency in data and experiences. Companies must empower their talent teams with a focus on skills. According to this study, companies with a skills-based approach see greater collaboration between talent acquisition and talent management.

Not All Providers Are Approaching Skills the Same Way: Technology allows companies to scale their approach to skills, provide opportunities and personalization to every individual, and leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to draw deeper insights. Most importantly, it provides context to skills by inferring insights about the individual and employer. Although several technology solutions are aiming to address skills today, not every solution provides value. A successful skills-based approach requires a commitment from a solution provider to build a skills ontology, invest in talent intelligence, and apply AI inference so that skills are dynamic and personalized. With companies increasing their investment in skills, they must carefully consider providers that demonstrate expertise.

A Skills-Based Approach Benefits Employers and Individuals: Skills are not just a benefit to an organization. They give employees the resources they need to manage their careers and provide more opportunities for personalization and inclusivity. To truly understand an individual, however, companies should not stop with skills. They should consider the qualities that will make someone successful and happy in the work they are doing.

Skills Can Greatly Impact Internal Mobility Efforts:  The most obvious use case for a skills-based approach is internal mobility. Companies are looking for better ways to promote and develop their workforce while supporting talent acquisition initiatives. With 70% of companies increasing their investment in internal mobility efforts, many are just promoting jobs or leveraging internal career sites. Skills offer a more substantial approach to internal mobility by providing employers with a deeper understanding of their workforce and empowering individuals with the tools they need to be successful.

Providers to watch (in alphabetical order): Beamery, Boostrs, Eightfold, HiredScore, Oracle, TaTio, TechWolf, Workday


  • Madeline Laurano

    Madeline Laurano is the founder and chief analyst of Aptitude Research. For over 18 years, Madeline’s primary focus has been on the HCM market, specializing in talent acquisition and employee experience. Her work helps companies both validate and re-evaluate their strategies and understand the role technology can play in driving business outcomes. She has watched HCM transform from a back-office function to a strategic company initiative with a focus on partnerships, experience and efficiency. Before founding Aptitude Research, Madeline held research roles at Aberdeen, Bersin by Deloitte, ERE Media and Brandon Hall Group. She is the co-author of Best Practices in Leading a Global Workforce and is often quoted in leading business publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Yahoo News, The New York Times and The Financial Times. She is a frequent presenter at industry conferences including the HR Technology Conference and Exposition, SHRM, IHRIM, HCI’s Strategic Talent Acquisition Conference, Unleash, GDS International’s HCM Summit, and HRO Today. In her spare time, she is a runner, an avid sports fan and juggles a house full of boys (where a spontaneous indoor hockey game is not unheard of!).