February 2023 Jobs Report: Insights from Dr. Frida Polli

Why hiring for job fit and skills is critical in this tight labor market  

This month’s jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to prove just how tight (and tough) today’s labor market is. The continued record low unemployment rate released today highlights the need for organizations to look for talent in a better, more efficient way. This includes removing unnecessary barriers to hiring, redirecting candidates who apply to one role but are better suited to another (redirecting not rejecting), and looking for re-skilling/up-skilling opportunities for their own employees. This means skills-based hiring! 

How do we accomplish this? By focusing on hiring for job fit and skills, not pedigrees and old-fashioned paradigms.  

Most organizations today still rely on outdated processes and technology that use a one-size-fits all approach to hiring. I saw this firsthand at HBS. I saw many Fortune 500 companies coming to hire pedigreed HBS students who fit the one-size-fits-all profile of “good employee,” in other words smart and hard-working. They would hire them, without much consideration to actual fit to job, and shortly thereafter, there were lot of unhappy employees and employers alike. This is mirrored by old technology that sifts through resumes searching for Ivy League schools, 3.6 GPAs and prestigious employers.  

Instead of hiring for pedigree, we should be hiring for job fit and skills. By hiring for job fit, linking job success to the hard and soft skills needed for the job, organizations can expand their candidate pool and find people who can be successful for the role. For example, we’ve seen clients using a skills-based approach remove GPA requirements, never known to predict job success to begin with, and increase talent pools exponentially while reducing turnover dramatically. That’s a win for everyone!  

We’ve seen other clients use fit-based technology to hire candidates rejected from their first application but redirected to better fit-roles. You may not make a great sales executive, but you have the perfect skills for customer success! Additionally, we’ve seen clients use internal mobility and re-skilling tools to enable two-thirds of the employees to find other jobs, most of which they would have never considered on their own. Reskilling from an IT or analyst role into a data science role is much easier than you think. 

This type of skills-based approach to hiring is here, today. Unfortunately, employers don’t always know the questions to ask to sort the old from the new. However, the hallmark of any great skills-based technology is its ability to understand what great talent looks like at an organization and identify the skills – hard and soft – that predict success in a given role. Benchmarking and customization are key to any great skills-based tool. In addition, there should be strong documentation that this approach does not also introduce gender, ethnic, age or disability bias. We cannot do anything about the macroenvironment, but we can respond to it nimbly. It’s time to redirect not reject, and hire for skills-based potential not pedigree! 

About Frida Polli
Dr. Frida Polli is an award-winning Harvard and MIT neuroscientist. She is the Chief Data Science Officer at Harver, the industry leading hiring solution helping organizations optimize their talent decisions. Previously, she was the CEO and co-founder of pymetrics, the leader in unbiased soft skills assessments. Under Frida’s leadership, pymetrics was a World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneer, Global Innovator, and Global Future Council member, an Inc 5000’s Fastest Growing company, and Forbes AI 50 company.  Frida was named one of Inc.’s Top 100 Female Founders and one of Entrepreneur’s Top 100 Powerful Women.   

Frida Polli

Frida Polli

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