Recruitment Challenges in the Current Landscape

Recruitment Challenges in the Current Landscape

The current hiring landscape presents significant challenges. Almost every talent report reinforces this reality, painting a picture of the struggle:

  • The majority of employers, about four out of five, face difficulty in finding the skilled talent they require
  • Projections indicate an impending shortage of skilled workers, with an estimated deficit of 85.2 million employees by 2030
  • Paradoxically, unemployment rates have dropped significantly compared to previous years 

Talent acquisition professionals find themselves in a state of uncertainty, navigating the complexities of this situation. There’s a palpable sense that conventional approaches may not be sufficient to address this crisis. While hope for spontaneous resolution exists, I believe a more intentional transformation is essential.

Ushering in a New Era of Hiring

In order to effectively tackle this hiring crisis, a transformation is imperative. While the talent pool and required skills are available, conventional recruitment methods struggle to navigate the noise surrounding the issue. This necessitates a fundamental shift in mindset and an embracing of change – an alteration in how we identify and select candidates to enhance the quality of our hires.

In this context, the concept of “skills-first hiring” emerges as a critical factor.

Navigating the Challenges of Skills-First Hiring

I’d like to clarify upfront that skills-first hiring is not a universal solution. While this approach has been touted for years by experts and practitioners emphasizing the importance of prioritizing skills, it’s not a magic fix. If you’re among the fortunate 20% who aren’t grappling with talent shortages, you can skip ahead, knowing your methods are working.

Nevertheless, skills-first hiring demands more effort, rigor, and time investment. The existing mainstream recruitment process, it must be noted, isn’t ideally designed to uncover genuine talent. Our reliance on proxies like educational background, previous job roles, and other elements often overshadows the core skills essential for a role. This approach assumes that specific skills are present based on where a candidate worked, studied, or what role they held. While this approach bears some fruit, it inevitably excludes a significant pool of potential talent.

Skills-First Hiring: A Paradigm Shift

The essence of skills-first hiring is to tailor the recruitment process to spotlight and evaluate the skills that directly contribute to success. By shedding certain criteria and diverting focus from conventional markers, the candidate pool expands, becoming more diverse. According to LinkedIn data, adopting a skills-first strategy can amplify the talent pool by up to tenfold.

But how do we practically implement this approach? How do we structure a recruitment process the uncovers the benefits of skills based hiring?

Job Descriptions

  • Eliminate educational prerequisites: Despite 70% of U.S. jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree, only 37% of the workforce possesses one.
  • Avoid stipulating “years of experience”: Imposing arbitrary experience limits can be both inequitable and potentially age-biased.
  • Reevaluate sector-specific experience: Overemphasizing industry experience can lead to hiring low performers with limited skills.


  • Move away from job title searches: Broadening search criteria can triple results.
  • Focus on related skills: Leverage LinkedIn tools to identify shifting in-demand skills for various roles.
  • Utilize AI and synonyms: Employ AI-driven algorithms to construct search strings encompassing synonyms.

Talent Advisory

  • Base decisions on data: Determine if skills-first hiring is suitable for a given role through data analysis.
  • Provide examples: Showcase instances where employees succeeded without conforming to traditional job titles or experience.
  • Define skills through negative examples: Identify key skills by studying the deficiencies of underperforming individuals.

Skill Assessments

  • Replace degree requirements with assessments: Online evaluations are a fairer means to test specific hard skills.
  • Evaluate soft skills: Platforms like Pymetrics and Arctic Shores employ AI to assess the soft skills needed for success.

Skills Development

  • Acknowledge rapid skill acquisition: Many skills can be acquired in weeks or months.
  • Encourage flexibility in skill requirements: Dissuade rigid mandates for skills that can be developed on the job.


  • Behavioral interviewing: Employ the TMAAT (Tell Me About a Time) technique to identify and rank pre identified skills.
  • Explore the “how”: Delve into a candidate’s approach and methodology in response to questions.
  • Employ situational questions: Gauge adaptability by presenting scenarios with varying constraints.

Learning and Development:

  • Consider skill acquisition timeline: Distinguish between skills that require a short duration to master and those demanding prolonged effort.
  • Differentiate between competence and mastery: Decide whether proficiency or full mastery is necessary for a role.
  • Leverage available resources: Identify courses and tools within your organization that can bridge skill gaps.

Internal Mobility

  • Value internal talent: Internal hires tend to outperform external ones in the same role and prove more cost-effective.
  • Monitor internal skill sets: Keep track of skills possessed by current employees to explore potential role shifts.

Workforce Planning

  • Proactively address skill gaps: Identify future skill requirements and commence skill development ahead of time.

Embracing Change for a Promising Future

The current hiring landscape is undergoing a transformative phase. The scarcity of essential skills and talent necessitates such a shift. Notably, LinkedIn reports a 5% decrease in job postings requiring four-year degrees over the past year, highlighting the evolving nature of recruitment.

By adjusting our hiring practices to emphasize skills over arbitrary proxies like experience, we not only widen the pool of potential recruits but also elevate the quality of candidates and the efficiency of the recruitment pipeline. This approach holds immense potential for success, resulting in a win-win-win scenario for all stakeholders.

Partner with 360 Talent: Your Catalyst for Performance Management Excellence

Partnering with a specialized talent management agency can be a game-changer for organizations in the quest for hiring people with the appropriate skills to excel.  At 360 Talent, we understand the unique challenges many companies currently face in this ongoing employment environment.

Our team of experts provides tailored solutions and guidance to optimize your hiring, ensuring alignment with organizational goals and driving exceptional results. 

Contact us today to explore our comprehensive range of people operations and recruitment solutions. From hiring to performance planning and goal-setting to ongoing feedback and coaching, we are here to support you every step of the way.

Author: Chris Stanzione
Chris Stanzione is the Managing Partner and co-founder of 360 Talent, a recruiting and people ops consulting firm in Atlanta, GA. You can connect with Chris on LinkedIn, Instagram, or the old-fashioned way at

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