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Helping disconnected young people gain access to fulfilling careers through transferable skills

A number of recent surveys among employers have raised the prominence of soft skills and attitude in the skills gap discussion – skills that can be refined and proven over time in all sorts of work and education experiences. Yet standard hiring practices continue to focus on hard skill screeners, in-network referrals, and on-campus recruiting, leaving young people without direct experience or a strong professional network out in the cold. The service we created, theThings.biz, recognizes the value of work (any work) in developing the core characteristics that would make for a valuable, long-term hire. And we are helping job seekers market these characteristics in a jobs marketplace where the initial screen is based on soft skills.

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As a hiring manager for 13 years in consulting, advertising and marketing roles, I believe that companies need to consider real changes in their recruiting practices to help and benefit from the valuable pool of talent among young people who have attempted to enter the workforce in the past 6 years.  A number of recent surveys among employers have raised the prominence of soft skills and attitude in the skills gap discussion – skills that can be refined and proven over time in all sorts of work and education experiences.  Yet standard hiring practices continue to focus on hard skill screeners, in-network referrals, and on-campus recruiting, leaving young people who have been out in the workforce, though un- or underemployed, or groups with unique experiences, like Veterans transitioning into civilian careers, out in the cold.
 
The service we created, theThings.biz, recognizes the value of work (any work) in developing the core characteristics that would make for a valuable, long-term hire.  And we are helping young job seekers market these characteristics to companies through a jobs marketplace where the initial screen is based on soft skills and attitude.  Our hope is that with this manner of evaluation, we can help companies discover a more diverse population of candidates who are more qualified to deliver value over the long-term.  And for candidates, we want to support the idea that active participation in the workforce, even if it’s not directly related to the career they aspire to, can be valuable in getting the career they do want started.
 
Though we are still in an early user acquisition phase, our focus on transferable soft skills as a means to evaluate young talent is based on gaps identified in this area through a number of career-readiness studies, including the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook Study and Bentley University’s PreparedU study.  We are currently designing a longitudinal effectiveness study to measure the impact of our process on employee tenure, effectiveness and diversity.
 

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I like the concept and it reminds me of the HBR article not long ago on how in the future we'll need to hire based on potential. The basic idea is that because we live in a VUCA (military term for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment even those that are fully competent in one situation might not be in another. The article then goes on to explain how to assess potential – motivation being the primary factor. Others include curiosity, engagement, insight and determination.

The question I ask is how do we get potential employers to embrace this way of thinking/recruiting? I like that the article gives some example questions to ask in interviews to get a sense of a person's potential, but this is a big mindshift from what we do right now and more will be required.

I've included the link to the article here:

http://hbr.org/2014/06/21st-century-talent-spotting/ar/1

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