*Featured image by Christina Morillo.*

Hiring practices are shifting all over the world and it has little to do with your degree.

In a recent report, LinkedIn found that worldwide, employers are increasingly using skills-based approaches in their hiring processes.

Source: LinkedIn. (2023). Skills-First: Reimagining the Labor Market and Breaking Down Barriers

This sounds groan-worthy on the surface but personally, I think this is fantastic both for people who don’t have degrees and for the individuals who do.

While I will never say education is useless, as someone who went all the way to get a Ph.D., I can boldly say that universities are over-selling the value of a degree and under-delivering on arming students with skills that are very much needed in the market right now. I’m not making this up. In fact, this Gallup poll says something similar.

I write this blog primarily for people with advanced degrees. And I cannot count the number of times people have messaged me to talk about how despite their long list of credentials and publications, their search for a job outside academia seems like an uphill battle.

I get it. I struggled for almost two years with this problem.

And so believe me when I say that most of the jobs you are applying for are unimpressed with your credentials and publications.

(Even if they are impressed, that is not what is going to get you the job.)

Employers want you to show them that your skills not just your education, make you an excellent candidate for the role. Thus, working on highlighting those skills can increase your chances of getting a response from your job applications.

How does one do this?

Let’s talk about it.

Step 1: Make A List.

I wrote another post on how to tailor your resume for jobs. If you haven’t read that post, I recommend you open it in a new tab and then read it after this one.

In that post, I go into detail about reading 5-10 job descriptions for the kind of job you want to get and looking for skills that are common across those job descriptions.

For instance, if you’re someone who is trying to get a regulatory medical writer job, you may find the following skills across several job descriptions for that type of role.

  • writing clinical evaluation reports
  • understanding GMP guidelines
  • writing clinical study reports

My suggestion for you is to open an Excel Spreadsheet or a Google Sheet and enter all these common skills.

Let’s move on to the next step.

Step 2: Inspect Your Toolbox.

Your education doesn’t sum up to a bunch of letters and a piece of paper.

You learned and picked up so much on the way. It is time to do some introspection and see what skills you have that are aligned with your skills list from the first step.

Let’s go back to our regulatory writer example.

You picked up writing skills during your Master’s degree or doctoral program. But having a litany of papers is not going to impress the hiring manager for the writer role you want.

You have to show them through your resume how your writing skills can solve the employer’s problem of getting a new writer in the seat who can do the type of work required of that person.

This may look like finding an example of the kind of documents you will be writing in this role and studying its components. Once you have done that, demonstrate how your writing skills from academia make you well-suited to write those types of documents on your resume.

It could also look like creating a small portfolio of work that showcases writing samples that are relevant to your future work. (Again, not just your publications.)

This process, which I summarize below, can apply to any kind of role you’re looking for:

  • read job descriptions on LinkedIn or Indeed and make an inventory of common skills
  • do an in-depth analysis of the skills you have
  • become familiar with skills you don’t know
  • write a resume that highlights how you’ve used those skills
  • build a mini-portfolio of relevant work that demonstrates how you’ve used those skills.

Step 3: Highlight Your Skills Everywhere

In Step 2, I talked about how to communicate your skills for roles on your resume.

Don’t stop there.

If you use LinkedIn, there are several opportunities for you to highlight your skills.

You can highlight evidence of your skills in the:

  1. Featured section
  2. About section
  3. Experience section and
  4. Skills section of your LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn is free virtual real estate to highlight your skills at every turn. And trust me, recruiters are looking!

Highlight them when you write a cover letter. Don’t make your cover letter a repeat of your resume. If a job you’re applying to requires a cover letter, use that opportunity to do more highlighting! It doesn’t hurt.

The job market is changing and will continue to change. Your job is to communicate how your skills solve problems for your future employer.

With a shift to skills-based hiring, one of the best gifts you can give yourself is to ensure you’re leaving no room for guesswork about how your skills fit a role.

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