Since the start of the pandemic, the role of human resources has been turned on its head, leaving talent leaders to pivot and rethink their well-established best practices in order to attract and retain diverse talent. In this DE Talk minisode, we sit down with Cappfinity’s Global Head of Marketing La Toya Hodge to chat about these changes, whether they’re here to stay, and how skills-based hiring can transform the talent acquisition process to widen the talent pool for the benefit of employers and workers alike.
About DE Talk
For DirectEmployers, it’s all about valuable connections and meaningful conversations. This monthly podcast features honest and open dialogue between powerhouse industry experts on a variety of HR topics ranging from OFCCP compliance advice to emerging recruitment marketing trends, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and insightful solutions that help infuse new life into your HR strategies.
Hosted by Candee Chambers, Executive Director of DirectEmployers Association.
VP of Strategic Partnerships & Alliances, DirectEmployers Association
With over 18 years of experience in the HR and online recruitment industry, Shannon uses his industry knowledge to build and maintain relationships with the Association’s bevvy of recruitment, veteran, disability and diversity-focused partners. In addition to his responsibilities at DirectEmployers, he also serves on the Board of Directors of Corporate American Supports You (CASY), a nonprofit organization focused on veteran recruitment, and the Indiana Business Leadership Network (INBLN), a nonprofit focused on disability employment issues.
La Toya Hodge
Global Head of Marketing, Cappfinity
La Toya Hodge brings over 16 years of branding, marketing, communications, and sales enablement experience within global corporations and higher education. She’s launched and guided award-winning demand generation and customer marketing programs. La Toya has presented in the US, Jordan, Cambodia, and Rwanda on topics related to leading remote teams, business communications, social selling, women in technology, and careers in STEM. She is a certified mentor through the Mentoring Standard. LaToya invests in local and global causes such as the Taste of Science, Support our Scholars, Jobs Partnership of Florida, Business Council for Peace (Bpeace), Tech2Empower, and TechWomen.LaToya earned a master’s degree in business (MBA) from Hofstra University.
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Since 2020, we’ve all been through years of tumultuous change. From a global pandemic that forced most professionals to forego the office for the kitchen table. A renewed focus on racial justice issues that brought DE&I to the forefront, and now, a looming economic downturn affecting jobs across the globe. As we look at the talent landscape for the coming year, one practice taking the lead is moving away from degree requirements and towards skilled-based hiring, especially in the middle skill jobs, which is good for both workers and employers. Today I am happy to welcome La Toya Hodge from Cappfinity to discuss skill-based hiring and the approach many organizations have taken to rethink degree requirements. Welcome, La Toya. And you know what? Before we get started, I hear congratulations as an order because you’ve recently been promoted. So congratulations, La Toya, and if you’d like to just say a few words about your promotion, that’d be awesome.
La Toya Hodge:
Well, hi everybody, my name is, again, La Toya Hodge, and I was recently promoted to Global Head of Marketing at Cappfinity, and I’m excited about that. Many of you that attended DEAMcon this year probably met myself and many of my colleagues, but we’re really, really bullish and really in favor of helping talent leaders use more evidence in hiring and developing, which is why skills-based hiring and this trend is really so exciting for us because I feel like and we feel like it’ll level the playing field and give many more people an opportunity that maybe perhaps before the pandemic wouldn’t have been possible. So thank you for the warm welcome and the opportunity to chat today.
Well, awesome. Well, thanks for joining us. What has the last two years taught talent leaders?
La Toya Hodge:
I think, just when I think about the conversations we have with our clients and many of our colleagues that are talent leaders, it really taught talent leaders to maybe expand the view of who gets to be considered talent. So prior to the pandemic, many organizations would go to marquee schools or would look at blue chip companies to poach talent. And when the pandemic kind of threw a monkey wrench and where people were working and that balance, and I think what that has done is that it just helped us really expand whose considered talent, where that talent works, how we keep people engaged and excited about their work. And in many instances just trying to find people to fill roles has completely changed. And that’s what I think the… For lack of a better term, probably the last two years, if I were to sum it up, has taught us.
Awesome. Do you think this change is permanent or do you think this is just a temporary situation?
La Toya Hodge:
I talk about this at work and then just even in my spare time, when I look at… And this is me going out on a limb, I think that it may have changed talent, like what they want from work, what employees in the US really consider a rewarding experience, and I think that may have changed for good. And here’s why, in the middle of all this uncertainty, people weren’t leaving jobs. So initially when we started out the pandemic, there were conversations about with parents having to homeschool and many people being forced out of the workforce.
And towards the tail end of that, what we discovered or if people were just opting out, leaving, job hopping, and moving on, and that happened in the middle of it or towards the tail end of it. And so I tend to think that we might have changed for good, and because of all of those changes that were sort of, I hate to say unprecedented because a certain point last year or in the last two years, there’s just like no more unprecedented we were here. But I do think all that change, put a greater emphasis on talent mobility and developing people, retaining people because what we discovered is just that you just can’t take anything for granted.
Yeah. That’s very, very good point. Very good point.
La Toya Hodge:
That’s just my thought, what do you think, Shannon?
I mean as you look at some of the other things that are going on out in the world, just if you look at the education space. So if you look at some of the admission standards that used to be in place for colleges and universities, you’re starting to see some law schools not require the LSAT anymore. You’re starting to see some universities and colleges not require the SAT and ACT. So me personally, I think this trend towards moving away from standardized tests, I think moving away from degrees, I personally think it’s here to stay. I think as far as the employment space is concerned, as far as degrees, I mean there was always this saying out there that employers don’t really care what you got here or what you get your degree in as long as that you prove that you could go through four, or six, or whatever it is years of school and accomplish something.
And I think when you look at when people who are moving into new roles, no matter what, for most roles, not all, I think when there’s specific roles that obviously a degree is needed, but for others, I mean when you get into that position, you’re going to be basically trained from really almost a ground up anyway. So I think that aptitude to do something is probably more important than having a degree because when I look at… I mean was a public relations major, and I do fortunately get to use a lot of mine, but a lot of people that I went to school with, they’re not doing anything related to their degree at all. And they had to learn all over again anyway. So I definitely think it’s here to stay, and there’s a lot of other reasons I think that, but I think with some of these shortages as related to being able to fill the positions that are out there, I think this allows organizations, employers, a greater ability to fill some of those roles with the right people.
La Toya Hodge:
Oh, I couldn’t agree more. And that’s such a good point too with those requirements sort of going away. I completely have forgotten about that, but these last two years have just been. So I think you used the word tumultuous earlier. There are points in time where it’s like, “Oh, yeah, that happened, didn’t it?” But it’s almost like we’re shell shocked. But I have to agree, there are just things that are just happening that I think some of these changes are pretty much here to stay. And it might not be a bad thing because in looking at more evidence or aptitude skills, I think it might retrofit or maybe right size that talent shortage conversation that I’m always wondered about, they’re just like, “Is it a real talent shortage or is that we’re looking for all of the same type of talent?” You know what I mean? And so all these other people somehow are left out of contention.
Yeah, but I think when you start looking at the types of roles that people are trying to fill. Like in IT, for instance, a lot of companies are looking for the same type IT folks, right? And if you’re looking for the same type folks, obviously there will be or possibly will be, or greater chances there’ll be some shortages because everyone’s looking for the same talent. I think there are other fields in that same situation. But I do think obviously with… And not to get way into this, but lower birth rates, and you look at aging population, and just the economy expanded the way it did. Those things would lend itself to obviously a shortage in certain areas for sure.
La Toya Hodge:
Oh, for sure. And actually, I want to be a complete nerd for a moment and share a fact that we kind of unearthed in some of our workaround in skills and skills-based hiring. But here goes, and this is according to current BLS data, at 62% of the American population over the age of 25 does not hold a college degree. So when you look at… Yeah. And I’m happy to share that link because I hang out on the BLS website probably more than I should.
But what that says to me is that’s a clear indication of that, there’s a lot of people that could be in roles, and that if we’re really focused on just very stringent criteria that one of them being, you have to have these things that you do sort of unintentionally backdoor your way into talent shortages. So it feels like just add-on numbers, just share numbers and some of the things you mentioned before in that. We just have to have a wider view on what good looks like, what strong talent means, where you go find those people, how do you encourage them to apply because that’s also a big piece. And yeah.
And I’ve seen some statistics around this, but do you think that a lot of employers put these with degree requirements in place just because that’s something they’ve always done? Or do you think that these jobs actually need or the majority of jobs actually need a college degree to do them?
La Toya Hodge:
I think it might be a little bit of a couple of things. So for talent leaders, a lot of times these criteria are used for screening tools. If you see a job description and it requires X, Y, or Z and you don’t have Y or Z, you often just opt out of even applying. And for organizations, many of which are probably DE Members where you large companies is really hard for your human resources, or in your TA teams to review every single applicant. So sometimes these criteria actually help to screen in or screen out certain types of talent.
Now, we’ve been doing this for 20 plus years, but we didn’t have a pandemic before, right? So now we didn’t have that plus economic uncertainty and all of the things all at the same time. So what has spurred this sort of trend to skills-based hiring is how do we actually screen in the people that will come to do these jobs and stay? Because hard to fill time to hire. These are things that pose really big business implications. You don’t have people in these roles, you can’t deliver on the things that you said you would for your customers. And over time not delivering means your competitors can go scoop up those very same customers. And so if you zoom out of just HR or just talent acquisition, that’s a big business problem that not very many companies can afford to have. And I think that’s sort of why right now is this really interesting time and really these shifts are happening.
Very good point. Let’s talk a little bit about how skills-based hiring can support your DE&I efforts. And I know that when we initially spoke a couple of years ago we talked about if you’re continuing to look in the same place, you’re going to get the same results. So can you just talk a little bit about how skills-based hiring can support DE&I?
La Toya Hodge:
I feel so excited when I think about the possibility. In terms of a DE&I, if you’re looking to have employee base that matches your customer base, DE&I is where you, how you get there. And by retrofitting your roles to fit what you actually need in those jobs, you get away from some of those things that used to screen out diverse talent. So that degree requirement or professional experience from a marquee company where it was very low instances of diverse talent, and by looking at what… I think you mentioned it before like aptitude, letting somebody actually show you what they can do during the interview process means that people that used to be maybe left out of just the entire interview or just even contention now have actual shot. And that has positive implications when you think of DEI from a gender, or from a racial, or from ability or accessibility standpoint.
So I really think that skills might be this thing that really helps us to go from helps some companies because a lot of companies did make significant strides, but others are still trying to get there. And I think skills-based hiring really is a way to level the playing field and in a way that really puts people in jobs that they’re really going to be good at and that they’ll stay in and that’ll be good for everybody. And in my mind in very short order that results and in more inclusive or more diverse and in equitable workplace.
Awesome. What obstacles do you think employers will see as they try to implement more skills-based hiring? And obviously this is not going to be completely easy and not everybody’s going to be excited about it, but what are some of the challenges you see with this?
La Toya Hodge:
Here’s where… I mean for what we see at Cappfinity is that a lot of times where to start is one of those places. So some companies will go from, “Okay, we’re getting rid of our degree requirements but we’re still keeping all these older criteria.” And they’re not including a way to actually access, or to assess, or to show those skills. So we actually did some candidate experience survey with YouGov and Wall Street Journal late last year, and I think it’s like 80% of the folks that contributed to the survey said they wanted to showcase their skills, but they just didn’t have the opportunity to do it. So the biggest challenge I can see is how to get started and what that looks like.
And some easy ways to do that is really looking at your interview process. Do you give people a chance to showcase work samples? Do you give your candidates at a certain stage of the interview process a way to actually show how they might approach the tasks or the things that would be required in that job? And in some instances that could be a sophisticated work simulation, it could be a project-based task, but have you opened up the way you’re really looking and assessing talent to give people a shot at showing their skills? If you aren’t, that’s a challenge. But I think that those challenges can be addressed if there’s some time and emphasis in infusing it, ways to assess for it and let people show what they can do.
Great point. Great points. When I was actually looking at several companies, several DirectEmployers Members who have started to, I guess, pull back some of their degree requirements, some of the larger tech companies who are members of DirectEmployers have actually set in certain roles that you no longer need to have those degrees. So I think it definitely seems to be a growing trend. What do you foresee happening, or what are your predictions I guess for the upcoming year? Do you see more employers moving in this direction? Do you think we kind of hold steady just because of this potential downturn? What are your thoughts, I guess, really I can say the remainder of 2023 even though we just started?
La Toya Hodge:
Oh, I love it. I love it. I love these questions because then we can go back at this time next year to see if I was completely of the charts wrong or right. So if I was wrong, my name is Shannon Offord. Just joking. Just joking. My predictions for this year is I really think skills-based hiring is going to catch steam. And where it might start is internal talent and really around talent mobility. So people that are already… Are like huge, many are DE Members that have open reqs. If I’m going out on a limb, I think one of the places they’re going to look to fill those roles first is maybe in-house.
And what that might mean is, I don’t know, Shannon’s in accounting right now, but there’s a req in supply chain management for instance. That’s where that skills base really giving candidates a chance, internal ones included to show how that their time within that organization, how some of their current skills are transferable, and how in doing so you actually probably have saved yourself a lot of grief. And by keeping that person in the organization and really helping them move along within the organization, I think that’s really, really key.
And earlier this week I saw a statistic about job hopping and in comparison to people that stayed in roles, and unfortunately there was a strong difference between when people left and got a different role, different pay than when they stayed. If we don’t change that in 2023, if companies don’t change that in 2023, at least try to level it out. We’re going to look back at this time, five years from now and really be all disappointing that we didn’t. So I really think skills-based hiring is really going to take off and it’s going to start really around that internal talent and talent mobility.
But in middle jobs, I still see a lot of expansion around skills-based hiring because to your point, if we look for the same types of people with the same background, we’re probably going to keep experiencing talent shortages at a time where we can’t afford it. So by really expanding and giving people a chance to really show what they can do, and that’s really what skills-based hiring will do, I totally see how that will help. And then even for earlier in career, for people that are just starting out in this environment where, I think it was yesterday, was it Salesforce then announced, and today Amazon announced, can you imagine if you graduated back in December what you must be experiencing right now on the fifth day of January? It’s terrors, right?
And so what that means is that you have to try to figure out different routes where you start your career. And that might mean organizations that maybe you hadn’t thought about before or industries that you hadn’t thought about before. And that’s where if you look beyond your major and even what your internship, but if you really kind of draw on those skills that could be transferable in those sectors, I think it’ll make a really challenging job search experience be a little bit more manageable, if that makes sense.
Yeah. It’s interesting how those people who may have graduated in the spring, they obviously weren’t hearing about any layoffs or anything, and now just a few months later, they’re people who are graduating are starting to hear about these large companies having reductions in force. So it’s definitely a very confusing job market right now for graduating individuals. But then, obviously for those who don’t have degrees as well, just trying to figure out what they’re hearing on the news, and what they may be seeing in their local communities with help wanted signs and windows and jobs of being posted, and things like that. So definitely some confusion out there and probably not that easy to navigate. And maybe like you mentioned, you’ll have to look at some different employers that you may have expected to look at, but there’s obviously still probably some opportunities out there to be had. So in closing, do you have any final words that you’d like to share?
La Toya Hodge:
I do have some final words. Thanks again for the opportunity to start the year off talking about skills-based hiring. And my other comment there is that I really hope that everyone listening sees a positive light in the very near future. And skills help, it is a good way, or skills-based hiring is a good way to really wave through all of the uncertainty.
We have experienced economic downturns before and now granted they have not been like the last two years, but the upside to the last two years is that it’s so unusual. We did make it through and we will make it through this period, and we just have to work with each other, try to share as much information as possible, encourage people. And if you are in an environment where you can really transition to or explore skills-based hiring for all the reasons that we talked about earlier today, let’s try to do it and look to DE and look to Cappfinity and folks like us to truly help go from looking to actually doing. And I think we’ll just make it through this period better off than we were. So those are my final words, let’s all stay positive.
Well, thank you for that, La Toya, and thanks again for joining us today. I know your schedule is crazy busy, so definitely appreciate you giving us some time and our listeners some time to join us today. So what’s the best way to get in touch with you if our listeners would like to talk to you?
La Toya Hodge:
I think a couple of ways. I’m on LinkedIn probably more than I should, so please, please, please connect with me there. My email is latoya.hodge@cappfinity. I always welcome opportunities to just have good conversations about talent, what talent needs to look like, or DEI, all of the things. So those are two ways that’s really quick and easy and direct to connect.
Thank you. For the listeners out there, we’d love to gain your insights on skills-based hiring, and look forward to collaborating with Cappfinity, the share survey on this very topic. If you’d like to be a part of the survey, please subscribe to DirectEmployers OFCCP Compliance mailing list at DirectEmployers.org/subscribe, and this will ensure that you will receive the survey and be able to participate. Again, La Toya, thank you so much for joining us today. Hope you have a great rest of the day. And for all the listeners out there, thank you for spending 20 or 30 minutes with us today, learning more about skills-based hiring and Cappfinity.
Thank you for tuning in for another episode of the DE Talk Podcast. Stay connected with DirectEmployers on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and subscribe to our emails by visiting DirectEmployers.org/subscribe to receive notifications of new episodes each month.
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