Tee Up the Skills

Date: 11/15/2018

Job-seekers: How do you show an employer on your resume that you’re a critical thinker?

Hiring-managers: Can you determine from an interview if your candidate is empathetic? Resilient through change? Collaborative with diverse teams?

These so-called twenty-first century skills, once known as “soft skills,” are critical to our future success at Northern Light Health. More than ever, we work cohesively as one large team of 12,000-plus employees to deliver better healthcare to Maine people. This means we need to find the right people with these abilities, but spotting these skills using a traditional employment application can be tricky.

“We have to find ways to not only attract new employees or talent, but we need to make sure the talent is the right fit,” shared Elizabeth Keenan, MBA, SHRM-CP, recruiter for Northern Light Health Talent Acquisition. “So, we became involved in this project with Education Design Lab through our partnership with the University of Maine.”

This fall, Northern Light Health was selected to be a part of #TeeUpTheSkills, a groundbreaking, first-of-its-kind national initiative that brings schools and employers together to understand how to close an identified “skills gap” and improve hiring practices. This pilot program is a partnership among the University of Maine, Bangor Savings Bank, and Education Design Lab, a national leader in the design and implementation of new learning models. Together, they will help students obtain certifications for the most in-demand yet hard-to-quantify skills such as initiative, creative problem solving, empathy, communication, and resilience.

“What these students are doing is a series of tasks or projects to prove they have gained the skills that go beyond the technical requirements for a particular job,” Elizabeth explained. In return, students will then earn “digital badges,” as they may have in their youth in Boy or Girl Scouts for mastering a skill. Digital badges are a concrete way to demonstrate knowledge and can be shared through social media profiles like LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter.

Joanna Morrison, SHRM-SCP, director of Northern Light Health Talent Acquisition, said these badges also greatly help employers. “Hiring can get complicated. By using these digital badges, hiring managers will easily be able to identify and separate students with the right skills from other applicants.” Joanna’s team is currently developing a plan to translate these digital badges onto traditional resumes, something many employers, including Northern Light Health, still rely on to find new talent.   

Hiring can get complicated. By using these digital badges, hiring managers will easily be able to identify and separate students with the right skills from other applicants.

The #TeeUpTheSkills program is voluntary for students and Elizabeth sees that as an opportunity to also identify students who show the initiative to take these classes. “We have a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing at Northern Light Health. This program starts that culture before these students are even our employees.” Joanna added, “It’s relationship building with these students and telling them we are a place they can continue to develop their skills.”
While still in its early stages, #TeeUpTheSkills shows promise and Elizabeth believes it has potential to better our system. “At the end of the day, the people we hire are taking care of our family, our friends. It will be compelling to see how these students, who have gone the extra mile and focused on communication and empathy, will have an effect on patient care at Northern Light Health.”