Why candidates and talent professionals need to start assessing employability
through human ‘power skills’
Mike Howells, President, Pearson Workforce Skills
The first official resume on record can be traced back to Leonardo Da Vinci in 1482 when he sent a letter to the Duke of Milan seeking a job. And while the design and superficial formatting might have changed, by and large the approach has remained the same.
Whether you’re a prospective internal or external candidate applying for a job, or a talent professional seeking a strong hire, your go-to is a resume or CV that lists a person’s achievements. Genius innovator though Da Vinci was, the resume is long past due for an update.
Tradition focuses on the technical
Just as Leonardo would have evidenced his technical skills around engineering, anatomy, painting and physiology; so too do modern candidates who are encouraged to show their suitability for a role by drawing on prior experience and qualifications. But this tired approach rarely gives individuals the ability to showcase their full selves, and certainly doesn’t allow them to demonstrate the skills that employers value the most.
At Pearson, we recently analysed millions of job ads to identify the skills that employers really want. We found that as the world of work continues to evolve, technical capabilities remain incredibly important, but employers increasingly prize uniquely human skills such as collaboration, communication and teamwork. These “Power Skills” will drive our economy and careers today and in the future. Unfortunately, traditional recruitment processes can be poor at revealing whether a candidate has these skills.
Using just a resume as a record of prior experience and qualifications, not only has low signal strength; it can prove highly inadequate as a predictor of future success. Ultimately though it doesn’t really tell a recruiter the key things they want to know: what skills do you have, what is your potential for the future and will you fit into the company culture and team.
Demand for the human is set to grow
The need to address the shortcomings of the traditional resume is only set to increase. Pearson’s modelling suggests that by 2026 the most in demand characteristics for all jobs will be human skills. That means businesses are looking for employees who can focus on customers, are strong learners, self-sufficient and have cultural and social intelligence. A big part of that is down to the pace of technological change and shifting consumer behaviours. It’s no wonder that the best employees will need to exhibit and excel in innately human traits that can be applied to multiple jobs and scenarios, if they are to succeed.
It’s time to re-evaluate how we categorise ‘employability’
It’s becoming abundantly clear that investment in human skills, alongside building technical skills, is the best way to future-proof organisations. Now is the time to act. CEOs are now turning a sharp eye to workforce issues – a trend we haven’t seen since the 2009-2010 financial crisis. They are more open to conversations about how to start re-evaluating the ways we categorise ‘employability’. It’s either that or they risk being left behind.
So how exactly should we define employability going forward? And how can businesses better access the information they need about a candidate’s proven skill set? Ultimately it will be employers and recruiters that drive this shift.
Instead of asking for a resume, employers should shift to skills-based hiring. Digital credentials are vital part of this shift. They offer proof of a candidate’s learning – whether through internal or external development opportunities – in one place. Credentials provide verified data about the tasks, assessments and materials a candidate has mastered, allowing existing or potential employers to base decisions on proven competencies. These can be in specific technical areas or in human skills like collaboration.
Instead of a subjective CV review, different approaches in the hiring process can be incredibly beneficial to find candidates, such as talent aptitude and behavioural assessments. In practice this could mean assessing people’s suitability based on their ability to draw insights from information, identify and solve problems, encourage teamwork and apply critical thinking.
And let’s not forget the potential of internal candidates. Businesses need to be clear on the power skills their employees already have. Imagine if as a manager you can tap into company talent data that shows you all the internal candidates that have the proven skills you need, allowing you to support their career path into a new role or promotion instead of looking externally.
Evolve or miss out
The organisations that recognise this shift to prioritise agility and adaptability in their people strategies will succeed as the world of work evolves. Helping employees to extend their talent mobility and stay relevant will cultivate a wider and more adaptable pool of available talent to meet today and tomorrow’s needs.
Time to modernise the template
During any period of uncertainty, the only thing that organisations can be sure of is continued change. While technical skills remain vital, the power skills that workforces need to remain relevant and adaptable are inherently human. It’s up to employers to take the lead, helping their employees upskill but also rethinking the way they themselves define talent and suitability for a role. It’s time to ensure people and businesses have the power skills they need to make sure they are fit for the future.