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The Importance of Uncovering Hidden Skills of Employees

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In today's rapidly evolving business world, organizations are constantly striving to identify and harness the talent within their workforce. One often overlooked dimension of an employee’s potential is their hidden skills. These are the talents, abilities, and aptitudes that may not be immediately apparent or haven’t been formally showcased in a work context. Quite often, these skills can have a significant impact on the success of a company when leveraged effectively.

However, human resources departments frequently struggle to identify these hidden skills within their employee base. In this blog post, we will discuss what hidden skills are, why HR teams may be unaware of them, and how organizations can benefit from recognizing and utilizing these skills in various contexts, including internal recruiting, transformation projects, and project staffing.

What are Hidden Skills?

Hidden skills are the talents, abilities, and aptitudes that may not be immediately evident to others, particularly within the work environment. They can include language proficiency, event planning experience, coding knowledge, or a knack for creative writing. While these skills may not directly relate to an employee's day-to-day job duties, they could still hold considerable value for an organization.

Why HR Teams Struggle to Identify Hidden Skills

There are several reasons why HR teams may be unaware of employee hidden skills. First and foremost, employees themselves may not be conscious of their hidden skills or may not think they hold relevancy to their current job role. As a result, they choose not to share these skills during interviews, performance evaluations, or other discussions with HR or management.

In addition, HR departments typically focus on assessing an individual's experience, education, or technical abilities relevant to a specific job role. As a result, they often overlook any hidden skills that may still be valuable to the organization. Furthermore, HR professionals tend to use traditional evaluation methods, which may not effectively uncover hidden skills. To address these challenges, organizations need to adopt a more holistic and creative approach to identifying and leveraging employee potential.

How Knowing Hidden Skills Can Help

1. Internal Recruiting

Hidden skills can play a crucial role in internal recruiting. When an organization is looking to fill a role internally, identifying employees with hidden skills that align with the new position's responsibilities can provide a pool of potential candidates. By promoting employees with relevant hidden skills, companies can benefit from reduced hiring costs, a smoother transition for the individual, and better overall employee satisfaction. Additionally, promoting internally can also serve as a powerful motivator for other staff members to learn new skills and pursue career advancements within the organization.

Example: A company needs a new project manager with experience in event planning. They identify an employee within their marketing department who has a hidden skill in event management gained through a previous volunteer experience. By promoting from within based on this hidden skill, the company saves on recruitment costs and gains a project manager with the relevant skills and knowledge of the organization.

2. Transformation Projects

Transformation projects often require organizations to adapt quickly to new markets, technologies, or customer demands. Uncovering the hidden skills of employees can help in these situations by providing a source of untapped potential and innovation. Employees with diverse skills can offer different perspectives on how to solve problems or approach challenging situations, making them invaluable assets to change initiatives.

Example: A software company is transitioning to a cloud-based platform and needs employees who understand cloud computing. They identify several staff members with hidden skills in this area, gained from personal projects or past educational pursuits. By recognizing and utilizing these skills, the company is better equipped to transition smoothly and more quickly to the new technology.

3. Project Staffing

Identifying hidden skills can also prove valuable when assembling project teams. Project-based work usually demands employees with varying skill sets to collaboratively achieve the desired outcome. Having a comprehensive understanding of employees' capabilities, including hidden skills, allows managers to staff projects more effectively by matching the right individual to the right role based on their unique abilities.

Example: An organization is launching a new website and requires team members with different skills, such as front-end development, copywriting, and graphic design. By understanding their employees' hidden skills in these areas, they can assemble a well-rounded project team that will deliver a successful website launch.

Identifying Hidden Skills: Adopting Comprehensive Skill Management and AI

Before we wrap up, let's discuss how organizations can identify employees' hidden skills. Implementing comprehensive skill management, along with leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to predict the likelihood of possessing certain hidden skills, can help companies uncover, track, and utilize these valuable but often overlooked talents.

Skill management involves creating a structured system to manage employee skills, knowledge, and competencies. It enables organizations to assess their human capital, plan workforce development, and identify skill gaps or areas of potential growth. By embracing skill management, companies can gain a clearer picture of every employee's skills and how they contribute to the organization's objectives. When rolling out a Skill Management it's important to utilizing AI-driven technology. AI-backed Skill Management software can analyze an employee's current skills, projects, and more, helping to predict the possibility of possessing certain skills beyond their formal qualifications or job roles. One such example is the Skillties platform, which leverages an AI-developed skill ontology. This technology assesses thousands of skills by analyzing data from various learning resources.


Recognizing and leveraging the hidden skills of employees is essential for organizations' success in today's competitive business landscape. It can lead to more efficient internal recruiting, improved transformation project outcomes, and better project staffing decisions. By proactively identifying and nurturing hidden skills, organizations gain a significant competitive advantage and foster a more creative, engaged, and high-performing workforce. It is time for human resources and management alike to adopt innovative practices to uncover these valuable skills and create a more resilient organization.