Skills over resumes: embracing potential, ditching pedigree, and prioritizing upskilling

August 18th, 2022
Anthony A. Reynolds, Chief Executive Officer

Last week a reporter reached out to HireVue about a story on how to craft the perfect resume. The interviewer asked questions like, “How important is it to include achievements by using numbers, metrics, dollars, and quantities wherever possible, and why?” and “How long should resumes be, and why?” I don’t begrudge the person asking these questions because resumes are a data point, but we politely declined to participate out of a strong belief that content about the “perfect resume” contributes to a discourse that drastically over indexes on one tool. 

In fact, it’s fair to say that it has become an unofficial motto at our company that employers of the future must focus on skills not resumes. 

Staying competitive in today’s changing labor market means using resumes as a single data point paired with the fairer, more accurate pre-hire skills assessment. Assessments are a less biased, validated tool that can help expand the talent pool to include a more diverse slate of potential hires. We’re not saying you have to toss resumes out completely – we still collect this information for our hires – but we urge business leaders to go beyond a laundry list of qualifications and past experiences to discover the skills a candidate holds to succeed in a role. 

Embracing potential 

Embracing skills is about embracing potential. An imminently qualified person may not have the exact experience you’re looking for, but they have the cognitive ability to quickly pick up new hard skills and already possess the necessary soft skills to thrive. This shift in focus is critically important when you think about equity for marginalized groups. Our partners at re:work Training have organized their entire mission around the fact that opportunities available for black job seekers on the southside of Chicago are markedly different from a white candidate just a few miles away. Providing a skills assessment for candidates can help companies move away from prioritizing biased resume points like the cache of a previous employer’s name or the zip code of an alma mater. 

We’ve seen a constant uptick in pre-hire assessment adoption amongst our customers, and the HireVue 2022 Global Talent Trends Report  gives me even more hope that they’re gaining broader traction. Of the 1,600+ respondents in our annual survey, about 45% are adopting a "skills first" approach.

Ditching pedigree

Speaking of alma mater, in a recent Harvard Business Review article on the rise of skills-based hiring, the authors describe a trend called “degree inflation.” Likely done as a way to measure soft skills (such as the ability to work in groups), in the early 2000s employers began adding degree requirements to positions that didn’t actually need them. This was especially stark during the Great Recession. Today, there’s no shortage of horror stories about positions that require a bachelor’s degree but pay substandard wages. 

With a tight labor market, employers are starting to recognize that thousands of well-qualified applicants are being screened out of their processes due to unnecessary degree and experience requirements. Fortunately, the market seems to be correcting itself – 16% of respondents in our annual survey dropped college requirements altogether and 18% prioritized bootcamp certifications. Even the United States Federal Government is starting to limit the use of educational requirements for IT professionals because this hiring practice breaks down barriers and clears hiring bottlenecks. 

Prioritizing upskilling

It was shocking the first month it was reported that 4 million people in the US quit their jobs, but now it's a common metric every few months with another 4 million people opting out of their current roles in search of greener pastures. This has forced companies to shift into overdrive on retention strategies ranging from increasing compensation to improving employer branding. The most exciting amongst these new tactics is a focus on learning and development allowances.

Everywhere you turn in the economy, there is a palpable urgency to upskill qualified workers to fill the jobs of tomorrow. Whether you’re trying to produce microchips or turn sales associates into programmers, our Chief IO Psychologist, Dr. Nathan Mondragon says it best:

“If they learned one skill, who's to say they can't learn something else?" 

One example of just how critical upskilling, re-skilling and training are is the conversation around microchips happening at the highest level of government, “From electrical engineering to computer science, the U.S. currently does not produce enough doctorates and master’s degrees in the science, technology, engineering and math fields who can go on to work in U.S.-based microchip plants.” The United States needs to quickly overcome talent shortages of this kind to remain at the forefront of innovation and shore up our supply chain.

A better experience for your candidates

The best hiring experiences strike the right balance between gathering the insights you need to make an informed decision and not creating a process too onerous for your candidates. While resumes can be directional, digital hire assessments help you get into the goldilocks zone by creating an engaging and streamlined experience for your future team members, without sacrificing key insights into the job-related competencies that really matter for success. Request a demo to learn more about how skills-based hiring can transform your hiring.


Collins, T. (2022, August 1). Surveys say: Employers leaning more into hiring those with skills versus experience. USA Today. E. Wooten, M. (2021, January 11). Memorandum to Senior Procurement Executives Chief Acquisition Officers. Bordelon, B., & Mueller, E. (2022, August 11). Biden wants an industrial renaissance. He can’t do it without immigration reform. POLITICO.