Recruiters: Your Skills Matrix is Trash And How To Fix It

Recruiters: Listen up.

It’s about this thing that you usually require from talent when it comes to explaining their skills and experience. It’s more annoying than that of a C/V update. It’s called a Skills Matrix. It’s that spreadsheet that you use to gauge out a candidates qualifications. Usually, you guys fill this out. Other times, we have to. And herein lies the problem.

I just had to fill one out today for a position after about a good five to ten minute conversation of where the recruiter kept cutting me off. Usually, I don’t mind Skill Matrices for it’s a time of reflection. It’s a peaceful moment to see what I’ve accomplished. However, there’s a issue with these. Some issues with these. Well, GAPING HOLES OF ISSUES with this skills matrix process. Allow me to help you change the magazine or get off this horrible subscription entirely.


Some of the sections are repetitive and/or redundant
Skill Matrices should cover the bases, but not overcompensate for resumes. Why

Some of the sections look as if they are copying straight from the source verbatim
This is self explanatory. You literally ripped out the job description in some of your sentences. How do I know this? Look at this example:

5+ Years of Front End Development experience

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript experience

Anyone can tell that these are literally the same thing. Even your client, which is sad because it would seem that they themselves probably don’t know you’re doing matrices in this fashion. The job description is a guide for the skill matrix. It should be considered as such for a skill matrix. How do candidates feel about repeating the exact same thing they painstakingly wrote on a resume or had to describe to you, on the phone, because you were too lazy to get it yourself? Not very good, that I can assure you.

How to fix it:

Do your homework
It doesn’t hurt to ask about something you don’t know. It should be a standard. Especially in the realm of software development. There’s just things that can’t be explained as if there was alot of skill to be put to them. For instance, source control. How much more detail do we need to cover for this? Again, if you don’t know this: please ask. Please suck up your pride and do the right thing*. And no, I’m not Gus Fring. Just a guy trying to help. Ask us these things.

* A Spike Lee joint. Figured I’d throw that in. 

As a matter of fact, I had a discussion with a friend of mine who is a recruiter. She asked me about the GET and PUTs are in terms of a form because SHE DIDN’T KNOW. So I obliged and told her what it was. There’s nothing wrong with ensuring that you’re asking the right questions in a skills matrix.

Keep It Simple, *bleep*: Keep it to core competencies, such as language acronyms, and duties that don’t need a sentence. Start with those. If there are other instances that need to be explained, such as communication and leadership skills: these would be it.

Proofread this with the client’s decision maker or a SME of the subject:

There’s a lot of doubt that this matrix was approved by the decision maker. If it was, there wouldn’t really be a need for whatever comments you’re getting from the poor soul who has to fill these out. To solidify the client’s Candidate Wish List, reach out to them and ask for a proofread. Trust me, we do it, too. Usually, it’s done through a pull request. Sure, it hits you hard, but if you can’t take anything valuable from it: you wasted your time.

If you get called out for your mistakes, by the candidate: own the mistake:

Sometimes, this might not happen, but if it does: just own up to the mistake. I’d call them out. These things are not perfect. In project management, skill matrices will not be perfect. You’re not perfect. You could be fixing your tie right about now because your dad’s Half Windsor knot method, that your significant other now thought was a good idea to fix, and it ain’t looking so hot. Your memo has more than a few typos. Recruiters, you’re sure as hell not perfect. You never will be. You can make commission near six digits, yearly, and you still won’t be perfect. You make these sorts of mistakes, and approach candidates, we’ll probably think you’re overestimating your own value/abilities. As much as you think you know, you probably don’t have enough of a clue to solve the puzzle. Just be ready to take responsibility.

Slow the hell down:
Seriously, this is important. Listen to what the candidates have to say about their experience. I can’t stress this enough. We didn’t need to have alot of this conversation if I was going to be just regurgitating facts in the first place.

In conclusion…
And with that, I’m done with the nudge of truth. Will I pen more on this subject? perhaps. Will I choose better graphics to use for headliners and filters? Only time will tell, and … yes I’m open to opportunities. Get me on LinkedIn.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

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