be used to expand the program
into other states.
Paul Harter, CEO of Aqua-Hot Heating Systems headquartered in Frederick, Colo.,
says he learned a lot from
partnering with Skillful. His
60-person company manufactures heating systems for recreational vehicles and trucks.
“Talent acquisition has al-
ways been a huge issue for
us,” Harter says. “In the past,
when we had an opening, we
would dust of an old job post-
ing, put it up, require a B.S. in
mechanical engineering and
see what happened. Now we
talk about what skills some-
one needs to be successful in
In one case, that conver-
sation led the hiring team to
conclude that the list of com-
petencies they had generated
didn’t necessarily describe
an engineer. After rewrit-
ing the job posting without
the degree requirement, the
company was flooded with
and ended up hiring a die-
sel mechanic who possessed
the abilities the business was
looking for. “That tiny change
made such a diference,” Har-
“How many of us get degrees in a feld we never work
in?” he adds, noting that his
own college degree is in commercial art.
The benefts of the strategy
reach far beyond time-to-hire,
Harter says. “We now have
single-digit turnover, and we
don’t pay the highest salaries
in our market,” he says. “[Our
skills-based hires] are ‘stick-
ier’—they hang around.”
Research bears this out.
In the 2015 publication Em-
ployer Playbook: Best Prac-
tices and Tools to Recruit
Technology Talent from Non-
traditional Sources, analysts
from CEB Global (now Gart-
ner) found improved retention
as well as other benefts for em-
ployers, including reduced hiring
costs and greater diversity.
“If you’re limiting hiring to people with college degrees, we know
minorities are underrepresented.
In certain felds, we know women
degree-holders are underrepresented,” Cobert says.
At eMoney, a wealth management software provider based in
Radnor, Pa., the HR team applied
the approach to quickly hire 30
people to staf a new ofce. “The
benefts included a broader and
more diverse talent pool that
brought diferent life experiences
and ways of thinking to the table,”
says Tessa Raum, SHRM-CP, the
company’s director of human resources.
The U.K. ofce of accounting
frm EY stopped requiring new
hires to have a college degree
in 2016 after an internal study
found little correlation between
academic success and job performance. Now the company evaluates applicants based on the
SHARPENING YOUR SKILLS
Employers seeking to implement skills-based hiring practices may find these
Skillful ( skillful.com)—Features free planning, hiring, onboarding and development tools for
employers, who can also sign up for updates on skills-based hiring.
TechHire ( techhire.org)—Provides more information about its programs, including a listing
of all 72 TechHire communities currently operating in the U.S., as well as access to its job
portal, https://techhire.careers/employer/new. Employers can sign up to show their openness to nontraditional hiring for tech positions. HR professionals can also sign up to conduct
practice interviews with TechHire candidates.
HackerRank ( hackerrank.com)—Offers a free demo, as well as a 14-day trial for employers
to review and test its library of thousands of coding challenges covering 35 programming
languages and six computer science domains.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Center for Education and Workforce
( uschamberfoundation.org/center-education-and-workforce)—Provides information on
The Opportunity Project, a new foundation workforce initiative, as well as research on the
skills gap and the future of work.