Think about every job you’ve ever posted and the wide variety of candidates that applied. Some of them probably didn’t have the right experience or skill level for the job. While certain applicants have a set of skills that can translate into success, many individuals need to improve in some way to be considered for the job. Offering opportunities for self-improvement is an effective way to get a pool of better-qualified applicants.

Knowing whether an applicant has the right skills goes beyond reviewing a resume. Applicants can embellish resumes or outright lie about their experience or skills. A recent CareerBuilder survey of more than 2,500 hiring managers found that 56% have caught job applicants lying on their resumes. The survey also revealed that the most common lie is to embellish personal skills or capabilities.

Pre-employment skills-assessment testing is an effective way to determine which applicants actually have the skills they claim on their resumes. By requiring applicants to take a skills-assessment test as part of their application, candidates must prove they have the required skills for the position.

What if an applicant has great potential or valuable experience but doesn’t pass the skills-assessment test with flying colors? What if an applicant could become an asset to your company if his or her background were more in-line with the job requirements? Is there a way to encourage the applicant to improve his or her skills?

Yes, there is!

Through applicant skill development, your company can share the skills-assessment test results with the applicant and offer him or her opportunities to improve. Assume, for example, that an applicant gets a low score in a customer service pre-employment skill test. After sharing the test results, you can suggest a training course for the applicant to brush up on those important customer service skills and encourage him or her to apply again later.

This method allows you to build a pool of applicants that are self-improving—training to improve their skills so they can be considered for positions at your company.

You can also encourage former applicants to improve their skills after they’ve been hired. This may seem counterintuitive, but in reality many applicants have the potential, the desire, and the drive to succeed. When improving a set of skills is all that stands between an otherwise-qualified candidate and the job, it may be worth considering additional training once he or she has been hired.

By using skills-assessment tests, you can determine the areas that the applicant (now an employee) could improve through training. This type of employee skills development can help increase job satisfaction among trained employees, fill skill gaps in your workforce, lower employee turnover rates, and improve employee productivity.

What are some of the ways you’ve encouraged applicants and employees to improve their skills?

Adina Miron


  • Avatar Yuliana M says:

    The skills gap can be large in some areas of activity, and sometimes HR can help candidates with great advice on what to learn and return better prepared. It would be great for the pool of candidates to have people who are better prepared when they return for another interview.

  • Avatar Stacy A. says:

    If an evaluation of a candidate or employee leads to a list of courses or training to follow, it can only lead to great things in a company. It keeps people up to date with job requirements and creates a pool of candidates that matches the company’s needs. 

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