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Skills-Based Talent Management: What Tech Companies May Be Missing

Human capital has taken center stage in companies across nearly every industry, and the technology sector is no exception. Despite being on the forefront of technological change, global digital giants and scrappy startups alike must still contend with other future of work trends like the shift to a skills-based approach to talent management.

For tech companies, skills are becoming the most sought-after currency in talent management, with education and experience carrying less weight than they used to. This isn’t exactly new. Top tech employers like Apple, IBM and Google have been emphasizing skills over more traditional criteria (like higher education) for several years. But in a post-COVID economy where the war for top tech talent remains fierce and a widening digital skills gap presents real challenges, more and more organizations are making the shift to a skills-first talent strategy.

But doing so successfully requires a more robust, flexible, and actionable approach to skills data than most companies (yes, even tech companies) have today. Organizations know more about their hires now than ever before – everything from their personal interests and social media footprints, to their career goals and skill sets. But this type of data can be complex to manage and often lives in many different HR systems (that often don’t communicate with each other), which makes it difficult to track, understand, and put to use in hiring and resourcing decisions.

Fortunately, another future of work trend – the use of artificial intelligence (AI) platforms to help automate manual tasks and make better data-driven decisions – provides a good solution. With the help of AI, employers can better understand whether a candidate (or a current employee) is the right fit for an open role based on their current skills and potential to develop new skills.

But this requires more than technology; it requires business leaders to rethink how they view talent as a whole.

What’s Wrong With Your Current Skills Data Management?

Traditionally, enterprise organization design emphasizes “jobs,” meaning you hire a particular individual to fill a particular open role, and they become responsible for a defined group of tasks. This jobs-based approach to human capital management (and to work in general) is inherently misaligned with a skills-based approach to talent management.

Placing workers in silos is not the most efficient way to hire or manage talent, let alone get the most value out of any person’s diverse and dynamic skills. Even where an employer has a robust understanding of an individual’s suitability for or performance in a given role, that employer may be unaware of the wider range of skills the employee brings to the table – particularly if those skills are not used routinely in their day-to-day work.

Compounding this challenge, the skills data that is available is often spread across several disparate and disconnected systems (e.g.your CRM, ATS, or training and development systems). This makes it nearly impossible to get accurate, thorough insights. Skills data can also become outdated fairly quickly, as employees and candidates in your talent community are continually upskilling and reskilling. If the tools in your tech stack don’t communicate with each other, the data is likely outdated and inconsistent. And as a result, you could lose valuable talent or be focused on the wrong talent altogether.

Even if you’ve already invested in developing a skills taxonomy, that data is typically complicated to manage. And as your organization grows and expands, every new system in your tech stack makes this skills taxonomy even more complex.

It’s critical for organizations to move towards a more agile and dynamic approach with skills at the center — free of manual skills data updates across each of your HR and talent management systems.

Why Your Skills Data Needs to Be Dynamic

Weak integrations and poor data could be holding you back. Static skills data and HR systems that don’t communicate are a recipe for confusion and inefficiencies in recruiting and internal mobility programs. It’s ironic that even technology companies often lack the right tools and platforms to support a truly digital human resources capability.

Conversely, companies that invest in technology to support skills can keep their skills data actionable and accurate. When skills data is dynamic, it empowers a skills-first approach that can provide a much-needed bridge between talent acquisition and talent management, which historically has been lacking in many organizations.

For example, does your training system understand “skills” in the same way as your ATS? If not, there’s a real opportunity to integrate and unify your skills data – not only to improve the overall quality and accuracy of your skills data, but to also help your HR team become much more efficient when managing it.

Skills Change Over Time. Your Data Needs to Change With Them

Quality talent data has a positive impact on the entire organization, beyond HR or talent management. And not having quality talent data often results in losing top talent. When a hiring manager has a role to fill, they should be able to view the skills that are already available within their team (or within other teams within the organization) to identify opportunities for internal mobility. And when they work with a recruiter, they should be able to easily identify and evaluate candidate profiles in your CRM for potential external hires.

However, if the skills data you have is static, it’s likely outdated. Today’s candidates and employees are broadening their skill sets to work towards their career goals. They’re actively upskilling and reskilling to remain competitive and take advantage of emerging opportunities in a rapidly changing work environment. Does your skills data reflect all of this? If you have to update your skills data manually in each of your HR systems, it’s (probably) not being updated as often as it should and no longer represents the true skill sets of your own employees.

Ultimately, inaccurate, outdated skills data could be one of the reasons you’re not hiring (or retaining) top talent – simply because you aren’t able to make the most informed decisions without accurate data to pull from.

AI Can Help

Skills gaps often stand between organizations and the future of work. Even in many technology companies, the exponential pace of digital change can leave some workers lagging behind, and others struggling to develop the so-called “soft skills” that are increasingly important for a digital workforce. That said, one path toward narrowing the skills gap lies in understanding and accessing internal talent with the right – albeit untapped – hard and soft skills (or the potential to develop them quickly through reskilling and upskilling programs).

Here again, shifting to a tech-enabled skills-first approach to talent management solves the challenge.

An AI-driven Universal Skills Platform is vital for HR teams who are tasked with managing the entire talent lifecycle, from sourcing and recruiting to internal mobility and alumni programs. The right AI solution allows talent teams to look at employees and candidates as unique people with living, breathing skill sets and dynamic levels of proficiency, instead of static groups of qualifications that fit an open role on paper.

Establishing a dynamic, single source of truth for your skills data is an essential part of the talent lifecycle, and it’s a good next step for organizations who are looking to take their TLM process to the next level by moving to a skills-first strategy.

Beamery’s Universal Skills Platform: A New Way to Think About Skills

Shifting to a skills-based approach to talent – one that emphasizes skills over experience, title or tenure – allows companies to close near-term gaps today, while building a future-fit workforce for tomorrow. This helps talent teams make fairer comparisons, uncover overlooked talent, and enable greater inclusion and mobility than ever before. Across sectors, this is especially important when it comes to attracting and retaining technology talent. And in the tech sector itself, more and more organizations are putting skills first when it comes to building and growing a top-tier workforce.

With Beamery’s Universal Skills Platform, you can see a holistic view of all skills across disparate systems and connect skills to each other and all your talent data. It allows you to get real-time updates on the skills, talent and expertise that are evolving across your business. Beamery’s approach allows you to use up-to-date data and accurate skills insights when evaluating internal and external talent to make better hiring and talent mobility decisions. It also helps retain and empower your employees by showing them personalized career paths based on their skills and career goals.

“Organizations are desperate for intelligent skills management platforms to improve recruiting, training, and internal mobility,” said Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company. “Beamery’s Universal Skills Platform has the vision and potential to play this role in many large organizations.”

Learn how Beamery’s Universal Skills Platform can help your organization uncover higher quality insights to make better talent decisions and see the full picture around your candidates’ skills and potential.