How a Competency-Based Approach to Recruitment Can Fill Critical Skills Gaps

What are Competencies?

According to the Oxford dictionary, competency is defined as “a skill that you need in a particular job or for a particular task”.  Competencies, therefore, refer to skills (such as behavioural skills, technical skills, attributes, attitudes, etc.) needed in order to be successful in a particular role.

How to Assess Comptencies?

Today, on the market, there are various off-the-shelf tools that can be readily used to assess the competency of an organization’s talent.  For example, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger, co-founders of Lominger Limited Inc. (which has been acquired by a talent-management firm), conducted significant research in the area of management and executive development, and co-created a suite of management, executive and organizational development tools.  Tools such as these can be used to assess existing and prospective employees’ level of capability in relation to leadership competencies. (They can also be used on the employee development side to diagnosis developmental needs and create development plans.)

To use these tools, an organization must first determine what leadership skills or competencies are critical to driving business success. Next, as part of a leadership development and/or succession planning initiative, organizations can undertake competency-based assessments (using one of the competency assessment tools) of their current employees and leaders in order to identify whether there are any skills gaps within their current talent pool.  Then, in hiring new talent, an organization can look for candidates who have demonstrated capabilities in the areas where they are lacking.

Why Use a Competency-Based Approach to Recruitment?

Organizations should use a competency-based approach to recruitment to ensure the organization has talent with the requisite skills.  By recruiting for specific leadership competencies that are lacking – where there is a skills gap – in the organization, the organization is immediately able to expand or improve its current capabilities and achieve its business goals.

For example, research has found that some of the most difficult leadership competencies to develop at the executive level are conflict management, innovation management, personal learning and understanding others.  The same research also suggests that these competencies are the least prevalent within the general population.  Assuming these are competencies critical to the organization, it would realize greater benefits by hiring candidates who already are strong in these competencies, rather than trying to develop current employees who are weak in them.

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