News & Articles

"Durable" Job Skills: The New Key to Hiring Success

Many hiring managers are used to thinking about skills in terms of "hard" versus "soft" skills or "job-specific" versus "transferable" skills. While this means of classifying skills has helped hiring managers for many years, the hard/soft divide is losing its value as a hiring metric in the 21st century.

Today, skills become obsolete more quickly than ever before. The average half-life of job skills in all industries is just four years; in certain fast-paced industries like IT, skill half-life can be as short as 18 months.

Hiring managers need a new way to conceptualize worker skills to make the best hires in today's work world.

Enter "durable" skills.

Need skilled candidates? Give All StarZ Staffing a call, and we'll deliver candidates who fit, stay, and perform.

Durable vs. Perishable Job Skills

"Durable" job skills are those that can survive upheavals in technology, industry practices or other major changes. By contrast, "perishable" skills are those with a short shelf life; they are skills that quickly become obsolete without constant training in new approaches.

One way to think of durable versus perishable skills is to group them by time frame.

"Perishable" skills will be useful for about two to five years. They include technology-specific skills, like using a particular type of software. They also include organization-specific policies and procedures that may be, and often are, updated frequently.

"Durable" skills stay useful for ten years or more. They inform the basis of everything a worker does. Top durable skills include design thinking, project management, communication, and leadership abilities.

Between these two extremes lie several skills that are "semi-durable." With a lifespan of about five to seven years, these skills often focus on the basics of specific fields or topics. They help workers stay current in their industry.

Durable skills allow workers to branch out into new areas while also digging deeply into one or two areas of expertise. They offer a tree-shaped career-growth model, where a worker's expertise has deep roots and can also express its relevance to a wide range of other fields.

Durable Skills in Any Job

One way to classify the skills used in any job is to think of them in terms of a tree.

Durable skills form the roots of the tree. They dig deep into the worker's approach to work, and they're likely to remain viable even if other parts of the tree die or are damaged.

Semi-durable skills form the tree's trunk and branches. These industry-specific frameworks help the worker understand the context of their work. While they renew with new layers every year, the fundamentals tend to stay strong and healthy for some time -- and the new layers add to that strength.

Perishable skills are the leaves on the skills tree. They come and go with the seasons, but they are also essential to feeding the other skills. They're the productive part of the tree.

All three skill types are essential in any job. Just as with a tree, feeding the leaves at the expense of the trunk and roots will ultimately harm the entire organism. Feeding the durable skills at the root, however, helps the entire structure to thrive.

Need Help? Find a Partner!

The old division between hard and soft skills isn't obsolete. But like many things in our current century, the hard/soft divide benefits from additional information and nuance.

When looking at a candidate's skills or deciding which skills are essential for a specific job, consider which skills are transferable across roles, related jobs or industries. Look for skills that are not only in demand now but likely to stay in demand in the future. And examine whether skills are sufficiently durable that they'll still provide value to the worker and the company in five or ten years.

If you're struggling to decide which skills are durable or perishable in any given position, talk to a recruiter. Your staffing partner can help you:

  • Identify and prioritize key requirements for any position,
  • Address perishable skills and create plans for updating them, addressing skills gaps, or finding candidates with more durable skills,
  • Improve your access to qualified talent,
  • Ensure an ideal total "fit," factoring in skills, experience, attitude, work style and more.

Finding the right staff member is often about finding the person with the skills on which the rest of the team can rely. When it comes to building your recruitment team, don't hesitate to reach out to a recruiter -- and rely on their specialized skills for staffing success.

Hire smarter. Call All StarZ Staffing today.