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Changemakers: How Cushman & Wakefield Uses Skills-Based Hiring for Veterans

August 17, 2023

At a Glance

Matt Disher helps Cushman & Wakefield’s hiring managers find top talent through skills-based hiring.

Carey O'Connor
Practices & Centers

Skills-based hiring is growing. Employers eager to find talent in today’s ultra-competitive hiring market are embracing the idea of hiring employees based on demonstrated skills, not just educational attainment. And the change is long overdue.

Starting in the early 2000s, employers began adding a bachelor’s degree requirement to jobs that previously required less education, even when the position requirements did not change. This trend, coined degree inflation, gave employers an easy proxy for employability skills that were increasingly in demand. The downside: Millions of qualified workers were suddenly unable to access jobs traditionally open to them. A study by Opportunity At Work found requiring a four-year degree screens out 83% of Latinx people, 81% of rural Americans, and 76% of Black people.

Companies that are not using skills-based hiring are missing out on a lot of diverse, experienced talent.

Matt Disher, Military & Veterans Programs Leader, Cushman & Wakefield

The majority of employers now rely on college degrees when hiring because they believe it is a less risky choice. How can proponents of skills-based hiring get risk-averse employers to try skills-based hiring? Look at veteran talent recruitment. Skills-based hiring is designed to help people like veterans. Veterans come from diverse backgrounds. They are experienced and mature, but their educational and work pedigrees may appear nontraditional to a civilian. Employers with veteran recruitment strategies use skills-based hiring whether they know it or not.

To understand why skills-based hiring is thriving for veterans and how employers can learn from it, JFF’s Carey O’Connor spoke with Matt Disher, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who works at Cushman & Wakefield as the firm’s Military & Veterans Programs leader.

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