Finding Success in Skills-based Job Searches

Jun 2, 2023 | Career Advice, Certificate Programs, Professional Development

Job searching can be exhausting, but it doesn’t have to be. Whether you are on the search for a new career or wanting to advance your current one, skills-based hiring is on the rise for all industries and can be used to your advantage when job searching; finding success in skills-based job searches is easy when you know how to market your soft and hard skills to future employers. Skills-based hiring is where employers hire “based on specific skills and competencies instead of education or experience (Arnold 2018; Gallagher 2018),” as stated in the March 2022 research report on Skills-Based Hiring and Older Workers. This type of hiring can be beneficial to those who are thinking about a career change or advancing their current one because “as the supply of older workers grows and they constitute a larger share of the workforce, employers will have to increasingly turn to older workers to meet their staffing needs,” per the report.


However, it is important to note that skills-based hiring requires a different approach to skills-based job searching. Since skills-based hiring relies on finding the best candidate with the best skills for the position, you’ll need to make sure you are prepared to search for a skills-based job a bit differently. You can use the following strategies to be successful in skills-based job searches:

  • Present your existing skills so that they highlight how they meet employer needs.
  • Be willing and proactive to learn and adopt new skills while updating new ones.
  • Develop an online presence to connect with potential employers and their industry.
Sills-based job search online

Marketing existing skills to meet employer needs.

When creating your resume to send to prospective employers, you will want to make sure that your existing skills are highlighted in a way that meets the employers needs. Take note of key terms that are repeated in the job description and attempt to use them throughout your resume. Many skills can be interchangeable and by using language that the employer uses, you increase the chances of your resume being selected out of the pile!

Skills-based hiring has been a common approach in jobs that do not require a college degree, but “it is increasingly being used for jobs that have traditionally required such degrees” and “older workers already have the skills employers are looking for and may only need help marketing those skills or demonstrating them during hiring,” as stated in the March 2022 Research Report. When in skills-based job searches, you might have to adjust your current resume to match the job you are applying for. Here is an example of how to make your skills specific to a specific job posting:

You are currently a secretary for a local school district. You are thinking about changing careers and want to find a new job in the field of business administration. From your experience, you know you have skills in communication, organizing and managing tasks, and have strong leadership skills that have given you many opportunities to lead teams at your current job. 

You want to apply to an administrator position at a local business and they are looking for someone who has strong communication skills, team leadership experience, and can efficiently organize and manage tasks and projects. Since you know you have these skills, you will want to make sure that they are aligned with the job description:

Communication skills → strong communication skills in team settings 

Team leadership experience → experienced in leading teams to successfully complete projects and tasks

Organization & Management skills → efficiently organize and successfully manage independent and team tasks and projects 

Small tweaks to the language used on your resume when highlighting skills can be the advantage you need to land an interview after applying for the job. By using key terms used in the job description, you are able to market your skills towards a specific which can help show future employers how your skills and experience is versatile. When creating your resume during skills-based job searches, make sure you are using a software like Microsoft Word or Google Docs so that you can always edit your resume to keep it updated and fresh.

Learning, adopting, and updating skills for skills-based job searches.

Learning and adopting new skills while developing old ones can be beneficial while on a skills-based job search. One way to go about developing old and new skills is by enrolling in a certificate program that can fast track your reskilling, upskilling, and newskilling needs. As noted in the March 2022 Research Report, “older workers should train for basic digital skills that are demanded in most of today’s jobs and that they lack compared with younger workers (hecker and Loprest 2019) and relative to their other skills (Mikelson, Kuehn, and Martin-Cuaghey 2017).”

As the world goes increasingly digital, learning and adopting new digital skills will be crucial for successfully highlighting that you have what it takes to be the best candidate for the role you are applying for. At DWC, we have ten certificate programs to choose from that range from project management and business administration to web development and UX design. On average, DWC students complete a certificate program in 4-6 months time, find employment in 3 months time, and 81% of DWC students went from unemployed to employed, according to our Enrollment Report for 2019-2021. Learn more about our successful certificate programs here: DWC – Certificate Programs. 

Skills-based job searches

Developing an online presence during skills-based job searches

Nowadays, many job postings are posted through websites that aim to get employees and employers alike connected with each other. Many employers will post job openings to websites like LinkedIn and Indeed and if you are not online while searching for a new job, you might be missing out on some really awesome opportunities! A website like LinkedIn is a great place to start if you have yet to develop an online presence for yourself. By creating a LinkedIn profile, you are able to market yourself to a large number of potential employers, connect with like minded professionals, and find resources for developing current and new skills. Here are some best practices when developing a professional online presence during a skills-based job search, as noted by Penn State University:

  1. Make sure your profile highlights your qualifications, career objectives, any current/former position you hold, and skills.
  2. Like/follow accounts and professionals in your field of interest, even companies you are interested in working with. This way, you can stay up to date on the trends of the field.
  3. Refrain from posting content that might damage your professional reputation. Employers often check social media pages and online search your name to see what comes up. If you preform an online search of yourself and don’t like what you see, make sure you delete, un-tag yourself, or ask whoever posted it to take it down.
skills-based job search online

Finding Success in the Age of Skills-based Job Searches & Hiring. 

The skills-based hiring paradigm doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon and with the rise of online automation, finding ways to market your skills is going to be increasingly crucial. According to a 2019 survey on the Use and Value of Educational Credentials in Hiring, “nearly a quarter (23 percent) of hiring leaders reported trying to move toward a formal skills-based hiring initiative that prioritizes skills and deemphasizes educational degrees, and 39 percent reported that they were exploring such a transition.” By marketing your skills in a way that meets future employers needs, being willing to develop current and learn new skills, and developing an online presence to connect with potential employers during skills-based job searches you are one step closer to successfully finding, landing, and advancing in a skills-based career.

As you begin and continue developing your professional identity and skills, know that DWC is here for you every step of the way. Find out how we can help you be successful in your skills-based job searches.

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