The Highlands Company Blog

Employers Want Skilled Workers: Discover Your Aptitudes

In an ever-changing job market, one thing has become clear in recent years: companies are evolving in how (and who) they hire. According to the Harvard Business Review, as employers assess candidates, they are increasingly weighing applicants’ skills rather than merely their educational attainment.

Several decades ago, employees were evaluated based on their skills. Then came a drive toward degree-based hiring practices, where job listings carried a specific criteria for educational background, effectively narrowing the job pool. Since the Great Recession of the late 2000s, however, there has been a slow gravitation back toward skills-based hiring practices. Now, the pendulum has swung.

So what does this mean for job applicants, and how can knowing and understanding one’s skills and talents benefit someone in their search for a career? Let’s explore.

What’s causing the shift toward skills-based hiring?

Two major events have brought about this shift from degree requirements toward skills-based hiring. First, the bull market from 2017 to 2019 resulted in a demand for talent that outpaced the supply of workers. Companies started to lean in to searching for talent with demonstrated workplace skills and competencies. Second, the Covid-19 pandemic stirred a major need for workers in most sectors, so companies were forced to broaden the pool of potential candidates, loosening up on the degree requirements and instead focusing more on skills. The HBR article states: “Employers seem to be thinking more carefully about what capabilities they are truly looking for, and they’re describing them more explicitly—which, in turn, is making job applicants more aware that they need to develop soft skills.” Soft skills are those such as communication, prioritization, and time management.

Skills and natural abilities

This leads to the question: What’s in your proverbial employee toolbox? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary states that a skill is “a learned power of doing something competently; a developed aptitude or ability.” Skills, by definition, are learnable. They can be gained and strengthened and are often built upon the foundation of natural abilities. But they can also be lost. Natural abilities, on the other hand, are inherent. They do not weaken with disuse. They are accessible throughout one’s life. Taken together, skills and natural abilities translate to on-the-job performance. They are both important to the success (and likely, satisfaction) one will enjoy in a job.

Make the connection

As employers seek skilled workers, now is the perfect time to identify, specify, and clearly articulate what you want to offer to potential employers.  Having a grasp on the natural abilities you bring to a position can be a boon to your job search. Not only can you connect the abilities-based skills you’ve already developed but you can set the stage for additional skill-building requirements. Discover your strengths using the Highlands Ability Battery! This objective assessment explores what makes you the unique individual you are. Its results offer insights that will empower you to market yourself effectively when job searching. With this knowledge, you’ll be able to determine how your skills and abilities connect with what companies are seeking.

Once you get a job, the magic happens. This is when you get to put your skills and abilities to work. In your new position, you’ll have the opportunity to demonstrate to coworkers, bosses, and direct reports the value you bring to the team and company using the skills you’ve acquired through previous experience.

Capitalize on the changing job market

With this new outlook toward potential candidates, employers are finding highly qualified candidates who are perfectly competent to carry out their duties, with or without degrees bolstering their résumés. The Highlands Ability Battery offers insightful information for these highly qualified candidates to realize their best-fit careers based on their inherent abilities. Learn more about the HAB today and capitalize on the recent twist in the job market.