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Many companies are transitioning to a new form of hiring that puts emphasis on applicants’ skills rather than traditional metrics such as education or years of experience. Data from job site Indeed shows that the share of U.S. online job postings that list a specific requirement for employment tenure has fallen by 10 percentage points in recent years. Additionally, there has been a decrease in the mention of college degrees in 87% of occupational groups. A ZipRecruiter survey of 2,000 employers also highlighted a shift towards skills-based hiring, with 45% of employers removing degree requirements for certain roles and 72% prioritizing skills over certificates in job candidates.

The trend of skills-based hiring, which prioritizes practical skills and real-world experience over formal education, appears to be gaining momentum. Hiring managers are becoming more explicit in job ads about the specific skills they are looking for in applicants. This shift in hiring practices has been attributed to the high demand for workers following the reopening of the U.S. economy in 2021 after pandemic-related lockdowns. Employers are dropping college degree requirements in order to access a larger pool of talent, as traditional measures of job fit, such as schooling, are not always indicative of a candidate’s suitability for a role. The focus on skills-based hiring is also in line with efforts towards workplace equity.

While traditional measures of job fit will remain important in certain professions, many employers are recognizing the value of skills-based hiring in unlocking new career opportunities for job seekers. The Harvard-Burning Glass study has shown tangible benefits of skills-based hiring for both businesses and workers, such as higher retention rates among workers without college degrees and significant salary increases for such candidates. However, there are challenges to implementing this shift, such as entrenched behavior among hiring managers that may slow down the adoption of skills-based hiring practices.

For job seekers, it is important to align their resume with the skills-based focus of job ads. While skills should be prominent in a resume, traditional information such as work history and education should not be neglected, as some hiring managers may still value these qualifications. Job candidates should also be prepared for skills tests during the hiring process, as this practice varies among different companies. Developing and demonstrating the identified skills are crucial for job seekers looking to make the most of the growing trend towards skills-based hiring.

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