The Future of Hiring is Skills-Based: A Guide for Startup Leaders

Published on
Mar 22, 2024
Performance reviews without docs, spreadsheets, or forms
See how WorkStory can streamline performance reviews for your team

The search for talent is as fierce as ever in the startup world.

With limited resources, startups need to hire employees who can hit the ground running. This makes skills-based hiring an appealing modern approach.

Rather than focusing on degrees and previous job titles, skills-based hiring prioritizes candidates' actual abilities.

For startup leaders considering this approach, here is an in-depth guide on implementing skills-based hiring effectively:

Define the Core Skills Needed for Each Role

Carefully analyze each role at your company and decide which hard and soft skills are absolutely mandatory.

For technical skills like coding languages, be very specific. List the exact languages and frameworks required based on your tech stack and projects. Also indicate years of experience needed for more senior roles.

For soft skills like communication, critical thinking or ability to work on a team, dig deeper into what day-to-day activities demand.

Look at your current top performers and identify their behavioral strengths and tactics. Turn those into tangible skills you can test for.

Avoid listing unnecessary "nice-to-have" skills that could limit your candidate pool without good reason. Prioritize the core competencies that determine success in each role.

Develop Skills Tests Candidates Must Pass

Simply asking candidates if they have a skill doesn't reveal their true proficiency level.

For technical skills, use short tests through vetted platforms like HackerRank. Carefully customize tests focusing on the exact languages, coding challenges and difficulty levels your open roles require.

For soft skills, design exercises that reveal the behavioral traits you seek. Assign a short written or video communication exercise to test someone's ability to explain complex topics clearly and persuasively.

Use case studies and hypothetical scenarios to gauge problem-solving abilities.

Set clear passing score thresholds. The goal is to efficiently filter for candidates with the core aptitudes you need.

Focus on Skills and Potential, Not Just Resumes

Don't automatically discount candidates just because of unconventional backgrounds or lack of 4 year degrees.

Data shows bootcamp grads can gain coding abilities rivaling those with computer science degrees in. Many people build in-demand skills like digital marketing and data analytics through online courses, freelancing gigs and more.

The resume is just a starting point. Thoroughly review each candidate's demonstrated skills, knowledge and potential upside, not just resume credentials.

Design your hiring process to uncover diamonds in the rough.

Also, take as much time as you need to find the right person. Measuring the right skills and asking the right interview questions can ensure that employee is a fit and stays on for the long haul - not only benefitting your team but also saving you a ton of money in the process in not having to find and train new team members.

Mitigate Unconscious Bias

Skills-based hiring may seem more objective, but bias can still creep in. Audit your hiring data to catch areas where diverse candidates may be falling through the cracks unintentionally.

Also remember - no algorithm or skills test is completely neutral. Use technology thoughtfully as part of a holistic process, but don't rely on it as a silver bullet.

Here are some best practices:

  • Remove identifying information from resumes before initial review
  • Use blind skills testing methods
  • Provide diversity training for interviewers
  • Actively recruit from diverse talent channels

Making skills-based hiring work takes effort - like anything worth doing.

Continuously Develop Your Team's Skills

Skills-based hiring is just the beginning. To build a strong, resilient workforce, you need to continually develop your team's skills over time. That's where ongoing performance management comes in.

With continuous performance reviews throughout the year, you can easily identify current skill gaps to focus development efforts. Platforms like WorkStory make it simple to gather peer feedback and track progress on key skills needed in each role and project.

The payoff is a workforce armed with the ever-evolving mix of tech savvy, adaptability and soft skills that drives startup success.

Skills-based hiring gets you started on the right foot. Continuous performance management keeps you moving in the right direction.

Write a review.
Right now, for free.

Hop into our editor to write your review, with the help of our AI tools, before exporting it as a PDF.

Start Writing

Latest Posts

View all articles

WorkStory Performance Review Process Webinar

Our Cofounder and CEO, Matt, will guide you through WorkStory to show you:
The key features that make the WorkStory platform different from others; it's like nothing you've seen before
How to set up your review process quickly, including customizing your questions, setting up goals, and the review relationships for your team
How companies are using WorkStory's "One-Click" review process to transform and scale their performance reviews so that team members can develop their skills throughout the year

Book Your Free Demo

Thank you, your submission has been received!
Want to save some time and schedule the meeting now?
Select a Date & Time
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.