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Decode the Resume Part 1: 4 Simple Ways to Verify Skills

RedThread Research has identified 7 skills verification methods that range from simple to more complex. In Part 1 of this 2-part job skills assessment series, we dive into the 4 simplest and most common job skills assessments. In Part 2, we examine 3 complex forms of skills verification that lean heavily on benchmarks and data.

RedThread members may access the full report authored by Heather Gilmartin and Dani Johnson.

As the prevalence of skills-based recruiting grows, HR leaders are beginning to grapple with how to verify skills in order to ensure their data is accurate. They’re discovering that evaluating job skills is more complex than merely defining roles and hoping to find perfect matches. Decision-makers must weigh a variety of factors to determine the most suitable verification approach for their needs.

You’re likely using some of these tactics to authenticate skills, but which are right for each role? And when should you level up to new ones?

1. Self-Assessment

RedThread Skills Verification-simple-skills-verificationsIf you’re looking for simple ways to verify skills, having employees and applicants affirm their own expertise is the second most common approach, according to RedThread. This is most typically seen in job applications, employee resumes, and interviews. 

But just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it’s effective.

While widely used, self-assessments can be unreliable. Discrepancies can occur for several reasons, including poor self-awareness, overconfidence, unintentional "self-presentation" bias, or, more seriously, candidate fraud. Many studies support the notion that people are notoriously inaccurate in subjective evaluation compared to objective measurements.

Additionally, RedThread notes that this approach lacks specificity of the level of skills and doesn’t contribute to the company’s skills data set.

That’s not to say there’s no place for worker self-reviews. As long as leaders recognize the limitations and risk, self-assessments can be a good, low-cost first step in identifying top talent early on. Giving potential employees an opportunity to showcase their abilities and skills contributes to a better hiring experience.

2. Performance Feedback / Informal Observation

In this verification type, an observer validates skills through an informal set of standards using various modes of feedback and reviews. According to RedThread’s report, 37% of surveyed organizations use performance feedback in their skills verification processes - the single most-used method by a wide margin. This is possibly because even before adopting a skills-based recruiting strategy, performance feedback was already being used.

These evaluations offer valuable insights into an employee's understanding and reveal any knowledge gaps by reflecting their overall performance over time or within a specific project. This approach contrasts with formal assessments, which isolate feedback to a single, often stressful event or test.

One significant downside to note in this type of job skills assessment is that the observer’s feedback can be subjective and influenced by personal biases.

3. Formal Observation

The key difference between formal and informal observation is that formal observation employs a specific framework to assess employee skills.

A formal, structured set of standards empowers managers to develop the ability to hold difficult conversations. It enables the clear identification of areas of improvement, and it provides a foundation for coaching and knowledge transfer that helps improve performance levels.

Even beyond actual performance and skills, observation can provide insight into so-called “soft skills,” such as how they handle pressure, adapt to new challenges, and interact with colleagues.

It’s important to invest in the time and training needed to carry out effective, unbiased observation. Observers should factor in the possibility that employee apprehension may result in inconsistent results. Additionally, observation might not capture all aspects of an employee’s capabilities.

4. Formal Assessment

Think tests, simulations, and sandboxes. RedThread reports that 53% of respondents who use formal job skills assessments do so because of compliance and regulatory requirements for certain roles, including necessary certifications or credentials.

Formal assessments can be very valuable. They increase objectivity, help clarify the role for applicants (who may be defining the skill differently than you do), provide leaders with data, and save time for recruiters. 

However, they don’t always align with the role or tell you what you need to know. Paying attention to assessment quality is critical for the best outcomes in skills verification. 

Upskilling Your Career Skills Assessment Approach

In this first installment of our exploration into skills verification approaches, the basic methods we’ve discussed serve as a foundational step.

It's important to recognise, however, that these initial methods, while effective up to a certain point, might not suffice for roles requiring deeper or more specialized skill verification. And as the skills trend continues to evolve, leaders will increasingly desire more confidence, accuracy, or granularity in their skills data.

In Part 2 of this series, we explore 3 more rigorous and comprehensive approaches to meeting the evolving demands of talent acquisition and employee upskilling programs.

One Model: Skills-Based Recruiting Depends on Data

One Model provides a people analytics platform that enhances skills-based recruiting by leveraging data-driven insights to identify skill gaps and predict future talent needs. We help organizations make more informed hiring decisions and better align their recruitment strategies with their business objectives.


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Learn how to build a people data platform that will allow you to do better skills-based hiring.

 

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