Upskilling: What Does it Mean for Employers Filling Open Positions?

Upskilling: What Does It Mean For Employers Filling Open Positions?

You may have heard of upskilling in the context of training your current workforce in new technology and evolving digital skills, but this practice can also help widen the field of candidates as you fill new positions.


How many times have you interviewed a candidate who doesn’t check every box as far as technical skill but who you think has a lot of potential and would be a great fit in your organization? These types of candidates offer a great opportunity to upskill, especially in the current tight labor market when finding the “perfect” candidate seems nearly impossible. This practice is not uncommon The 2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey revealed that eighty-five percent of HR leaders surveyed would be willing to train and upskill an underqualified candidate, and 78 percent said their organizations have already benefited from upskilling underqualified workers.


Now, we’re not recommending hiring any candidate who walks through the door, banking on the idea that they’re trainable; but it is important to be open minded when evaluating candidates against the current job description and be more deliberate about the core abilities they need (and what similar jobs might be) rather than direct experience. Perhaps the applicant doesn’t have experience with a particular software, but they have worked in the industry before and understand all the jargon and nuances of the sector. Or someone may not have been a salesperson, but have been in roles with tremendous interpersonal requirements.  As you review resumes and interview candidates, make sure recruiters and hiring managers are on the same page when it comes to must-haves in the job description versus nice-to-haves.


The other dynamic is that often people are in roles and perhaps even underperforming because they don’t love the role, but have not left because they aren’t aware that the fundamental skills they possess would be good in another profession. For example, a software developer may have strong technical and organization skills, but not necessarily be great at coding.  They might be great at technical implementations but have never considered that path.  So, it helps to be open minded to find ways to attract people with the fundamental skills, that could then be trained on the specifics for the new role.


Not only does upskilling help you fill necessary positions sooner than if you had waited on the dream candidate, but taking a chance on a new hire can help diversify your team and provide valuable perspective. An employee who comes with different experience or is newly trained in a skillset can offer a point of view that helps your organization discover more efficient ways to work or new solutions to existing challenges.


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