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The Talent 411 with Chris Galy: Skills, skills, skills

Chris Galy
Findem Chief Evangelist
October 31, 2023

Skills are all the rage these days, aren’t they? At every turn at HR Tech in Vegas and every HR article these days, it's all “skills, skills, skills”. Honestly, it’s about darn time we stop using just resumes and LinkedIn profiles to assess talent, but are skills truly the answer to all our talent woes? 

Let’s take a walk down memory lane to get the full grasp of what’s at play here. especially before making any big decisions on skills-oriented strategies or technologies.

A brief CG-based history of skills based human capital management

Even though it seems like we are onto something new, skills have been the foundation of HCM for more than 100 years. Skills and task-based training, development and validation was foundational to military operations. As a US Army Veteran, I remember this fondly and leveraged many of these frameworks over the years.

Corporations and governments followed their lead, leveraging skill and competency models for assessment, selection, promotion, development, mobility and much more. Skills define what work gets done and how to measure the outcomes. 

So if you are like me, it’s easy to get excited about breaking work down to the skill level, geek out on skill taxonomies, remembering the good ol’ days of competency models and KSAs because it’s powerful stuff. So where did skills go and why are they coming back with so much fanfare?

Just-in-time hiring and the rise of the resume

Skills never really went away. However, they did take a back seat to resumes, LinkedIn profiles and job descriptions when the just-in-time talent revolution arrived. Why? Speed and cost. Profile-based assessment and promotion is simply faster. 

Working with skills and competency models can be effective, but these models are expensive to build, manage, and maintain. They also require ongoing alignment and supportive leadership.

This investment made sense when companies and employees made career-long commitments. Companies hired entry level workers, trained them up, and grew talent from within. This stable, long-term view of talent aligned with a predictable pace of business. Oh how things have changed. 

Just-in-time hiring worked better in the rapid growth era, when companies expanded quickly. People made careers by jumping to the next level at a new company, while hopefully seeing that company through growth and new challenges. And all that works great when everything is up and to the right on financial charts. Enter the pandemic, the Great Resignation, and mass layoffs, and the result is a breakdown of trust between companies and employees.

We now see a free flow of talent, moving towards a gig economy, and that calls for more than just a profile or a resume to find the right talent.

Data that goes deeper than skills

The resurgence of skill-based talent philosophies is promising, and AI is making it easier and cheaper for companies of any size to go the contemporary skills path. It’s also great for the gig economy. But is it enough?

Skills provide a foundation, but the digital footprints of people and companies give us so much more than individual skills and competencies. Instead of imposing a taxonomy on top of the multitude of data, why not discover the patterns that emerge with the right questions? 

With Findem, you can search for candidates by attributes. These attributes are facts about every person based on people and company data over time. You can generate a talent pool sorted by degree of matching to desired skills. You can analyze the talent pool by a market map, diversity, and other measures. You can even dive into individual profiles to better calibrate the whole pool. Then reuse that search to build a community of people with shared skills. 

This builds so much efficiency into the recruitment process for both internal and external hiring that talent teams gain tremendous amounts of recruiter capacity. We can leverage that time to dig deeper into assessing skill quality and validate skill levels. We can go back to spending more time on higher quality tasks. We get more human time with our candidates. Let’s not get bogged down by data, but use AI to uncover insights hidden in the data. 

Traci Wicks joined me for a conversation about how to reignite your TA team for an AI future.

How skills manifest into careers

Essentially, attributes are the manifesting and deployment of skills, experiences and situations. Attributes highlight the combination of the talent + the organizations they represent over time. If an attribute were an equation it would look like this:

Personal characteristics + Organizational characteristics / Time

Armed with attributes, you can now ask Findem just about anything and get meaningful insights to the talent available, talent you already have, and talent you used to have. 

For example, you ask Findem things such as:

  • “Findem, show me a slate of CEO successors within and outside my company and prioritize diversity candidates in the ranking”
  • “Findem, show me the distribution of female java engineers with 3+ years of experience and more than 2 years at their current company in the US”
  • “Findem, show me product engineers at my company with more than 12 months in their current job who have these verified skills….” 
  • “Findem, show me a list of trailblazer engineers at the top 100 B2B SaaS companies who stayed with that company through C round.”
  • “Findem, how many sales people did competitor X have when they were at our stage, B round”
  • “Findem, ____________”

See Findem’s Talent Data Cloud in action and let’s start a conversation about the changing role of the recruiter.

Data, data, data

So skills never really went away. But we tried a shortcut to understanding skills with resumes and profiles. Data and AI let us bring skills back to the mix in a new way. Many of us have already kicked off 2024 planning. Will skills, skills, skills be in the mix? What data will you use to drive your skills strategy? 

If you have a trend or specific topic worth discussing in an upcoming webinar or sharing of any kind, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

Godspeed, happy October and always be recruiting!

- CG