Emsi Skills: Creating the language of work

Learning to better communicate skills between employers and job seekers

When we use the term “skills gap,” what we really should be talking about is “skills matching,” or finding the right candidate to fill an open job. Too often, employers create postings which job seekers respond to with resumes built on a list of skills they think they learned in school. Yet in the end, the employer’s algorithm doesn’t find what it’s looking for and the job seeker either never hears back or is rejected for unknown reasons, many times resulting in the company failing to fill the need.

So what happened? The August report from the Labor Department sets the unemployment rate at 3.7 percent, a level that economists frequently describe as “full employment.” Yet companies constantly are lamenting a lack of qualified candidates. Are job seekers inherently unqualified or are companies missing something? Maybe, it’s just a matter of communication and language?

What if there was an efficient way to match employers with qualified job seekers? Imagine if resumes regularly contained simple lists of skills which easily would line up with lists of skills being sought by companies. Emsi, an Idaho-based labor market analytics firm, believes there’s a solution.

Emsi Skills logo

It’s rolling out Emsi Skills, a new open-access skills library which starts with 30,000 skills on file, from “accounting” to “zypper,” all commonly listed on real-world resumes, professional profiles, and job postings.

“The only way to really understand jobs is to understand them at the skill level,” explains Andrew Crapuchettes, Emsi CEO. Crapuchettes tells WorkingNation that when companies create job postings, there’s a propensity to imagine a candidate with every credential and experience, a super human prototype. “Frequently, companies post for skills and credentials that would be nice to have, but they don’t need,“ he adds. So the end result either is overpaying for a candidate who is over-qualified or limiting the pool of candidates and missing out on potential workers who would be a good fit.

To help solve this problem, Emsi analyzed millions of job postings to determine the actual language employers use to describe their talent needs. With that information, Emsi Skills sets up a common language between people looking for work, work looking for people, and educational programs looking to connect people to the labor market. Emsi Skills seeks to put all stakeholders on the same page, speaking the same language. “Job titles are simply not detailed enough,” says Crapuchettes.

It all comes down to language. People try to translate their professional goals into educational programs, and then translate their education into marketable skills. As a result, people try to choose the right education program based on their professional goals and then translate their education into marketable skills in the language of business. Job seekers communicate their qualifications through resumes and professional profiles. Companies read these profiles and connect the data back to people. So what is the common thread? Skills.

The Language of Business

It all starts with the job posting. While many businesses use the same job title, the actual job duties can vary greatly. Emsi Skills creates a level playing field. Employers want to know what skills to require in their job postings. “In an economy that competes on talent, the importance of employers clearly signaling in-demand skills and competencies cannot be overstated,” said Jason A. Tyszko, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Center for Education and Workforce.

For example, two different companies can list the same job title, Software Engineer 1, yet each lists entirely different skill requirements and are looking for dramatically different people.

Employers can be more productive because they can hire the talent they need quicker and cheaper.

Tyszko adds, “With 62 percent of employers either exploring competency-based hiring or already putting it into practice, tools and resources like Emsi’s new skills library are necessary to support this critical shift.”

People and Skills

Job seekers want to know what skills to learn in order to succeed in the workforce. And then it’s become of great importance to communicate those skills to employers. According to Crapuchettes, “Young job seekers do not know the hot, in-demand skills. So if you have context, what jobs are trending, the job seeker is in a better place than not knowing. It’s critical to tell the employer the skills you have that they actually want.”

Emsi is working with early adapters to assist lifelong learners to create personal pathways for reaching their goals. Part of that involves self-examination in order to understand which skills they’ve gained in their prior education and work history.

Using the library, people will be able to build a resume that will get noticed by employers who now will be looking for the same skills. Job seekers will be able to communicate the high demand skills they have in a language companies understand, increasing their opportunities in a dynamic workforce and economy. And an end result, the skills match will enable students and job seekers to gain a larger compensation package.

Tagging Your Training

If you are an educational institution, Emsi Skills provides multiple tools to make sure you are training students for the skills in demand. In addition, you can tag your course offerings and syllabi using the library’s standard skills vocabulary.

Western Governors University already has been working with Emsi to map WGU’s learning competencies to corresponding skills that appear in job postings, matching taught skills to sought skills. By incorporating this vocabulary, students will become better-informed consumers of education, and in this case, leading employers to recognize the abilities of WGU graduates more easily.

The skills library is free to all and is updated every two weeks based on live postings and profiles, as well as suggested skills submitted through the Emsi Skills website.

Emsi also is providing access to a skill tagging prototype which demonstrates how the library can be used to translate job postings, resumes or syllabi into the common language of skills. Interested organizations can test sample text or try it out on their own documentation.

This platform is free, and for good reason, says an enthusiastic Crapuchettes, “Our hope is that a year from now many organizations are using this open skills library so that they can decrease the inefficiencies in the labor market. And Emsi can fulfill our mission of connecting people, education and employers with labor market data.”

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