Unleashing the power of skill transparency in the war for talent

By accurately assessing and communicating skills, talent leaders can make better hiring decisions, reduce biases and create a more level playing field.

In today’s competitive job market, companies are scrambling to differentiate themselves from their competitors to attract and retain top talent. In a 2022 survey conducted by Hays, 61 percent of respondents said they were seriously considering leaving their positions, with 53 percent of those surveyed stating their departure would be due to lack of career growth. Additionally, 48 percent stated that no skill-based training has been initiated by their companies to support their growth. 

The employee experience is becoming just as important as the salary and benefits offered. Too often, organizations fail to clearly communicate the required skills and path to career progression for a role. Skill transparency provides a mechanism for organizations to focus on the employee experience before an employee signs on the dotted line.

Making skills transparent is an integral step in building a talent ecosystem. Transparency directly corresponds to the ability of job seekers and employers to accurately assess and communicate the skills needed to be successful in a position, including both technical and soft skills. Companies that readily share and socialize these requirements better understand the skills of their existing and potential employees and make informed hiring or promotion decisions, reducing biases and creating a more level playing field for all candidates. 

The significance of skill transparency in the recruitment process cannot be overstated. When employers are candid about the competencies required for a particular role, they are more likely to attract the right candidates with the appropriate skills and experience. And it works both ways. Job seekers who are honest and open about their skill sets and proficiencies are more likely to find job opportunities that align with their strengths and expertise.

In addition to attracting top talent, skill transparency can improve upskilling and retention processes. With an understanding of the existing skills of employees, employers can implement and support a skills-based talent strategy to retain top performers, ensure employees have the tools to succeed in their roles and provide them with the knowledge and support to continue growing their careers.

Transparency in practice

While the idea of skill transparency sounds simple, figuring out how to do this in a practical manner can feel daunting. For many organizations, changing from the more traditional loyalty and time method of promoting and hiring means a new way of working. Organizations can employ more transparency and clearly articulate the criteria for success in several ways. 

Competency matrices are an effective tool for supporting skill transparency from the day a new employee walks in the door. These documents, which should be made available to all employees within the organization, clearly outline measurable skills that are expected within every level of a position, ultimately creating a “pull” learning culture as employees take ownership of their career growth by comparing their skills to those of the next position that sparks their interest. 

Competency matrices can also be used to create personalized growth plans, align training and development resources and track employees’ progress over time. HR and talent acquisition teams can use the matrices to create detailed job descriptions that clearly outline the skills required for a particular role. This can help attract the right candidates and ensure job seekers have a clear understanding of the skills required for the role. 

Another practical way to promote skill transparency is through skills assessments, which are used to measure a person’s proficiency in specific skills and their role fit indices, the percentage in which an individual’s skills match their position and level. Assessments might include portfolio reviews, practical tasks with panel sessions and behavioral interview questions. They may even incorporate 360 data from annual feedback cycles. 

Job seekers can use assessments to showcase their skills to potential employers and by employers to evaluate the skills of job candidates, both internal and external. With a clear picture of employees’ skills, employers can also identify opportunities for individuals to move into new roles or departments that align with their strengths and interests, helping employees gain exposure to different parts of the organization and enhancing their career prospects within the company. 

Assessment results also enable organizations to identify skill gaps among current employees. Employers can use this information to design targeted training and development programs that address specific gaps and help employees grow in their roles. By investing in the development of their employees, companies take a vital step in creating a culture of continuous learning and development, which can lead to greater job satisfaction and productivity.

If an assessment shows gaps in knowledge or skills, this information should then be shared with the individuals to provide focus areas for growth. Employers can provide informal opportunities for employees to grow their skills through internal presentations, practical tasks or cross-functional projects. These opportunities can be posted via an internal marketplace where teams post “extra mile” activities and provide opportunities to help develop practical skills, share knowledge and expertise and grow professional networks. These activities help employees gain exposure to different parts of the organization and develop new skills that may be relevant to their current or future roles. 

Skill transparency is a valuable tool in the war for talent. By accurately assessing and communicating skills, companies can make better hiring decisions, reduce biases and create a more level playing field for all candidates. In addition, skill transparency can be used to improve upskilling and retention processes by communicating employees’ skill strengths and gaps and supporting employee needs with skill-focused opportunities, leading to greater job satisfaction and productivity.