By Corporate English Solutions

26 June 2023 - 16:33

A guide to successful skills-based hiring for HR & L&D teams

Are you ready to optimise your talent acquisition approach?

In today's competitive job market, organisations must move beyond qualifications and work experience if they are to attract key talent with the right skills. “Competence over credentials” or a skills-first approach to hiring can revolutionise the recruitment process, broaden the talent pool and ensure the right skills are in place to drive success in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape. Discover four strategic actions your organisation can take to drive a successful skills-based talent acquisition strategy. 


Reading time: 5 minutes

Competition among organisations to attract and retain talent continues to escalate. With 90% of organisations reporting that they will have meaningful skills gaps in coming years, now is the time to act.  

Navigating the current competitive job market requires a mindset shift: traditional recruitment methods are no longer adequate to attract talent with the essential skills needed to drive organisations' success in this time of rapid transformation. Employers must embrace new approaches, like skills-based hiring, proactive talent sourcing, digital platform utilisation and authentic employer branding to effectively compete in today's talent landscape.

A skills-based hiring approach is critical expanding the talent pool and filling crucial roles. And this is taking HR and L&D teams in a new direction. Finding effective ways to support their organisation’s transition from traditional “jobs” to skills-based work.

What is skills-based hiring?

Skills-based hiring prioritises a candidate’s capabilities - skills, knowledge, attitudes and aptitudes - rather than their educational background, qualifications and number of years of work experience. This “competence over credentials” approach to talent acquisition, recognises that candidates’ capabilities may be a better measure of success in a role than certificates. 

Why skills-based hiring?

This strategic shift brings substantial benefits to organisations, including:

  • aligning hiring decisions with the specific needs for each role
  • improving job performance
  • reducing employee turnover rates
  • identifying internal talent with the potential to grow 
  • increasing diversity and inclusion in the workplace (and reducing bias in recruitment).

What are the challenges of skills-based hiring?

While skills-based talent acquisition strategies have proven benefits, they will also lead to increasing challenges in the next five years:

  • Talent scarcity: It’s estimated that over 85 million jobs available in 2030 will go unfilled – making it more difficult to find qualified candidates for critical roles.
  • Reduced productivity and efficiency: Less qualified candidates means fewer qualified professionals to perform crucial tasks and projects.
  • Talent retention: Today’s talent has more opportunities for alternative job offers. Organisations will need to work harder to keep their top performers. 
  • Talent migration and globalisation: As more talent moves around and organisations go global, cultural and linguistic challenges may increase.

So, how can HR and L&D teams turn these challenges into opportunities? Read on to discover four strategic actions to drive a successful skills-based talent acquisition strategy.

 1. Develop a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy

A winning skills-based hiring process requires a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy that aligns with your key business objectives.

Strategic actions

  1. Align talent acquisition strategy with business goals: Identify the specific skills needed to achieve business objectives and focus on securing talent with those desired skills.
  2. Clearly define skills required for each role: Create detailed, skills-based job descriptions. Candidates who understand (and fit) the role’s skill requirements are more likely to apply and succeed.
  3. Perform robust skills assessments: By using skill-based tests, simulations or practical assessments, you can gain a deeper understanding of a candidate’s competences and hire talent who can make an immediate impact.
  4. Regularly assess and refine talent acquisition processes: Track the effectiveness of talent sourcing strategies and assess the quality and retention of new hires.

Key benefits

  • Improved talent acquisition process: By aligning talent strategy with skills requirements, organisations can improve the quality of hires, selecting candidates with the necessary competences.
  • Enhanced candidate attraction: Hiring based on skills appeals to candidates who value skill-oriented career paths.
  • Reduced time-to hire: A skills-based hiring approach saves time. It makes it easier to set clear skills requirements and evaluate candidates based on those abilities.

2. Build a strong employer brand

What sets your organisation apart? An effective employer branding strategy and a reputation as an employer of choice. 

Strategic actions

  1. Define and share your employee value proposition: Communicate your unique benefits and advantages as part of your talent acquisition strategy. Things like company culture, mission, values and career growth opportunities. 
  2. Showcase employee success stories: Highlight real-life examples and accomplishments. Turn the spotlight on to share the impact your employees are making – through internal and external channels.
  3. Develop an appealing careers website: If it doesn’t live up to your employer brand, you’ll be less like to attract potential candidates. Ensure it has comprehensive information about your organisation, its values, mission and available career opportunities.
  4. Take advantage of social media: Build a powerful online brand presence. Share engaging content about your company’s culture, employee efforts and learning initiatives. These tactics create a positive impression of your organisation.

Key benefits

  • Desirable workplace: Having a strong employer brand makes your organisation more attractive, increasing the pool of qualified candidates. And it is proven to boost retention. 
  • Better cultural alignment: Candidates who align with an organisation’s values and culture are more likely to thrive and excel in their roles.
  • Competitive advantage: An appealing employer brand sets an organisation apart from its competitors, increasing its advantage when competing for top talent.

3. Collaborate with education institutions, industry associations and networks

Are you a thought leader in your industry (or want to be)? Collaborating with education institutions and industry associations can boost your talent acquisition strategy. 

Strategic actions

  1. Provide internships and apprenticeships: Offer practical, hands-on experience to students so they can apply their theoretical knowledge in real-word scenarios. You’ll nurture promising talent while students gain valuable industry experience.
  2. Engage in collaborative research: Work closely with academic institutions to explore innovative solutions, address industry challenges and contribute to knowledge building. Collaborating allows your organisation to tap into the expertise and resources of academia while facilitating research-driven innovation. 
  3. Actively participate in industry events, conferences and seminars: Encourage employees to attend events to learn, share and meet other industry professionals. Your organisation will gain access to valuable insights on best practices and emerging trends. 
  4. Contribute to industry publications: Provide contributions to industry blogs or newsletters by sharing thought leadership articles, case studies or research findings. These efforts position your organisation as a valuable resource and boosts its employer brand.

Key benefits

  • Access to a future talent pipeline: By establishing relationships early on, you can engage with identifying promising future talent who possess desired skills and capabilities.
  • Stay updated on industry standards: Collaborating with others helps you stay current on industry trends. Being informed allows you to continually optimise your talent acquisition strategy.
  • Enable knowledge transfer and innovation: Sharing research, expertise and best practices leads to innovation, problem-solving and the development of cutting-edge solutions.

4. Build a skills-first organisation

A recent World Economic Forum highlights the impact a skills-first approach can have on organisations’ success. It quotes Deloitte’s research findings: “organisations building a skills-first culture are 63% more likely to achieve results across 11 key business and workforce outcomes, including meeting or exceeding financial targets, than those who have not adopted skills-first practices.”

A skills-first organisation appeals to potential candidates as it offers them a platform for skill utilisation, growth, and career advancement aligned with their professional aspirations. 

Strategic actions

  1. Collaborate with managers and leaders: Work closely with managers and leaders to align skills development initiatives with strategic business objectives. Engage them in identifying skill requirements, providing input on training needs, and supporting employees' skill-building efforts through coaching and mentorship.
  2. Foster a culture of skills development: Establish a robust learning and development framework that encourages employees to acquire and enhance their skills. Provide opportunities for upskilling, reskilling, and continuous learning, demonstrating a commitment to employee growth and professional development.
  3. Establish a skills recognition framework: Develop a framework that recognises and rewards employees for their skill development efforts and achievements. This can include certifications, badges, or internal skill-based assessments that validate and acknowledge employees' acquired skills, providing motivation and encouragement for continuous learning.

Key benefits

  • Appeal to candidates seeking advancement and continuous learning: Organisations that prioritise skills development and offer opportunities for growth become attractive to job seekers seeking a learning-oriented and progressive work environment. A reputation for being a skills-first organisation helps attract high-calibre candidates who are motivated to join and contribute their skills to the organisation's success.
  • Increase internal talent pools: When employees acquire new competencies, expand their expertise, and take on additional responsibilities they are empowered to grow their skills and advance their careers internally. This, in turn, reduces the need for external 
  • Improve talent retention: Creating a culture of skills development and providing opportunities for career growth internally motivates talent to stay, reducing turnover rates. Employees are more likely to stay with an organisation that values their skill development, offers advancement opportunities, and recognises their efforts, reducing turnover and associated costs.


By embracing these strategies, your organisation can build an effective talent acquisition strategy and succeed in skills-based hiring. You’ll enhance candidate perception, boost your employer brand and attract top talent, creating a competitive advantage for the organisation in today's dynamic business landscape.

British Council has been supporting organisations worldwide to identify and develop skills to ensure your talent is equipped for success now and in future. Partner with us to upskill your workforce in the crucial skills for success in 2023 and beyond.