3 Ways to Optimize Your Skill Strategy

Published on Mar 15, 2021

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Haley Yamane Melhart


Talent directly impacts your business. Every time an employee leaves, gets hired, or gains new skills, their company experiences change. But as an employer, it can be hard to prepare for these changes at the individual employee level, especially when people gain skills beyond their job titles or descriptions. 

That’s why it is critical for talent acquisition leaders to have the clearest lens for understanding the roles and skills of the people within their companies. 

So how do you gain the clearest lens? 

By having a skill strategy. 

A skill strategy is identifying the skills your talent has, and using them for optimized hiring and development goals. 

No matter the industry, competition for talent is fierce. So it’s crucial for talent acquisition to take advantage of every opportunity to attract, find, and develop talent.

3 ways to leverage skills for an effective skill strategy 

  1. Market job postings and effectively match candidates 

  2. Map internal data for richer insights and evaluate external talent 

  3. Target learning and development content strategically

With a skills-based lens, each of these actions can bolster your talent strategy. Let’s take a closer look at how.

Market job postings and effectively match candidates

How many times do you come across job postings that are:

  • Ambiguous and disorganized

  • Have a lengthy (and unrealistic) amount of required skills

  • Outdated and don’t account for company changes

Too often.

This is where a skill strategy can help. 

First of all, writing the most optimal job posting is not an impossible task. When a posting focuses on the skills that matter most (rather than the job title or laundry list of requirements), it markets to potential candidates with clarity and relevance. 

Once you understand the critical skills you’re looking for, you can use them to take your search deeper and find out:

  • Where the hotbeds for those skills are located (domestically and internationally)

  • Which of your competitors houses those skills 

  • The compensation range for those skills

  • The demand for those skills (and for emerging skills you hadn’t considered)

Not only do these insights expedite finding talent, they increase the likelihood of finding quality candidate matches.

Map internal data for richer insights and evaluate external talent

We talked about how change is felt with every employee shift. Since no two employees are identical in knowledge, experience, or skill set—employers need an objective way to measure talent on the skill level.

When you analyze the skills that exist within the roles at your company, you can better map out:

  • Which employees have the skills you can upskill to fill empty roles

  • Which skills your company is missing (skill gaps)

  • How your skills match up against industry standards

  • Skill combinations (or clusters) found in specific roles (to better understand the differences or similarities between roles)

The more you know about your employees’ skills, the better equipped you are to make decisions on whether it’s time to reskill with existing talent or focus on finding external talent.

Skills give you rich insights like these on an ongoing basis. When you have a clear lens on your skills, you can make informed talent acquisition decisions.

Target learning and development content strategically

Talent is your most valuable and expensive asset. So when you have great people, it’s in your best interest to try and keep them around. 

The last thing you want is for your talent to become stagnant in their skill sets. By analyzing skill gaps, skill profiles, and industry benchmarks, you can create learning and development goals specific to your roles and company goals. 

In other words, employers and workers can use skills to create intentional plans for their career growth—adding to individual employee skill sets and their value within a company. 

But retaining talent is only half of the equation. 

Having a pipeline to continuously seek out, train, and hire new talent is equally important. You don’t want to be caught off guard when your talent approaches retirement or when the economy takes an unexpected turn.

Just take the 2020 logistics trend as an example. Logistics companies (think trucking and warehousing) were in an all-out war for finding and hiring talent to match the boom in shopping, shipping, and fulfillment demands of the economy. 

In fact, the demand for training student truck drivers increased by 869% (you read that right) from January 2019 to December 2020. 

These industries struggled hard when the demand for their services skyrocketed beyond their talent supply—forcing companies to look beyond their standard workforce and scramble for the next generation of upcoming talent. 

Scrambling is not a strategy.

Unexpected swings in supply and demand of talent happen all the time—so it’s crucial to have additional talent on deck. By keeping up to date with the skills that are in-demand throughout your industry, you can get ahead of the competition by seeking out that talent first.

The Emsi Skills difference

There are countless use cases for skill-based tools to up your skill strategy. At Emsi, we take pride in the transparency, accuracy, and comprehensiveness of our skills library.

With Emsi, you get three kinds of skills: 

  1. Human skills (soft skills): Basic skills required in nearly every job posting like communication or problem-solving

  2. Technical skills (hard skills): Specialized skills for a particular job such as Java or financial analysis

  3. Certifications and licenses: Certifications or licenses required for a job like CompTIA Security+ or certified radiological nurse

Our skills library is updated every two weeks, so you can trust it reflects the latest changes in the labor market.

Get API access to our FREE Emsi Skills Library

A skill strategy is key to talent acquisition

We could talk about skills all day. Bottom line—skills are the future for talent acquisition and the time to adopt them is now. 

To learn more, check out our FAQs all about skills. Or fill out the form below to chat directly with our experts about how you can use skills for your talent acquisition strategy.

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