Employers ditch skills requirements to find the right candidate

A third (33%) of UK organisations are willing to drop skills requirements before any others as companies fight for talent.

New research by recruiting software company iCIMS has shown that recruiters are adapting to the tight talent pool by taking on high potential candidates with fewer skills.


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By dropping skills requirements, recruiters are widening the talent pool for hard-to-fill roles.

A third (33%) of all applicants are now 18-24 years old, an age group less likely to have the skills and experience of their older peers.

Chinor Lee, global head of culture, belonging, inclusion & diversity at iCIMS, said: “Thinking about skills differently helps diversify and round out the workforce.

“We get the benefit of bringing in more talent, but - maybe just as importantly - we bring in new knowledge and new experiences, to help us strengthen our culture and ultimately enable a stronger business.”

However, just a fifth of employers (19%) said they would drop location requirements first.

Victoria Short, CEO of recruiter Randstad UK, said the reluctance to compromise on location could be an attempt to bolster retention rates.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “We know working from home has weakened ties to firms. When you work from home, for instance, you are no longer sitting next to a friend in the office.

“Suddenly those factors which used to unconsciously bind you to an employer, and which are surprisingly powerful, are negated; working from home makes it matter less who you work for.

"So, it seems theoretically possible that a great percentage of employers in the UK would be looking to hire more for location - if only from a retention point of view.”

However she added that she had not noticed this trend in her work.

She said: "It's a talent scarce environment and most employers are bending over backwards to accommodate candidates' flexible working preferences."

Simon Wingate, managing director of jobs website Reed, told HR magazine: “I would urge employers to keep an open mind when it comes to the location of candidates.

“Adapting to new workforce trends shaped by the pandemic will help to improve their chances of attracting and retaining the best talent.”

Wingate added, however, that businesses’ creativity with recruitment is a positive step for the job market.

He said: “It’s encouraging to hear that employers are more accepting of candidates with a wider variety of skills and experience – this will widen their net. 

“In response, we’ve seen a massive surge in workers undertaking courses as workers pursue their dream careers regardless of whether it requires upskilling or reskilling to enter a new industry.”