As employers demonstrate interest in skills-based training in addition to — or instead of — degree-only requirements on hiring applications, job candidates may face barriers to properly sharing their information for hiring teams to assess, according to a March report from Northeastern University.
A company’s hiring platform, as well as third-party options, may not provide adequate fields to capture the relevant skills and nondegree credentials. In addition, some software may prioritize traditional degrees over microcredentials. When extracting data, information about alternative credentials may also be “lost in translation,” researchers found.
“Most talent acquisition systems are not yet prepared to accept new types of nondegree credentials or richer skills data,” wrote co-author Sean Gallagher and colleagues from Northeastern’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy.
“They remain geared around basic educational information and unstructured data such as PDF attachments,” the authors wrote.
For the report, Gallagher and colleagues analyzed how hiring platforms handle educational credentials and skills data. Based on interviews and demonstrations with top technology providers and a review of such tech, they made several recommendations to close the data gap between education tech and HR tech systems.
For instance, HR leaders should define their hiring needs and work with technology partners to ensure that digital credentials and skills are prioritized in product road maps, they said. Those who invest in HR technology — such as employers and talent leaders — should also push for more consistent adoption of data interoperability standards.
“Job candidates’ applications and resumes often pass through multiple software systems and intermediaries, which can introduce inconsistencies and data loss,” they wrote.
Beyond that, most systems don’t authenticate educational credentials by default, and they don’t tend to support digital credential verification either. A verification system could lead to better digital credential adoption among HR leaders and allow individuals to “own” their learning records.
Although hiring systems and intermediaries vary widely on how they manage and process skills data from applicants, major progress is expected in coming years, according to the report. Talent acquisition technology firms have reported positive benefits in leveraging AI, though this still needs to be monitored carefully as the technology develops, it warned.
“Caution is warranted in considering AI as a decision-maker in the hiring process, versus a tool to augment it,” the report authors wrote. “There is healthy skepticism of AI, but beneficial talent acquisition use cases are expected to continue to emerge.”
Overall, the demand for skills-based hiring is growing, they found, which will drive innovation in hiring platforms. As part of that, conversations will continue about which credentials are considered credible and how to best capture people’s skills and knowledge.