Unlocking the Power of Recruiting with Emsi Skills

Job descriptions can be a valuable tool or the silver bullet that kills your first chance with prospective candidates. Contrary to popular rhetoric in recruiting circles, job descriptions are not dead but they do need to evolve. Emsi Skills is a valuable tool for recruiters who want to create a more effective job description and evolve into a more consultative talent agent for their clients.

What does Emsi Skills do?

Emsi has curated a list of nearly 30,000 skills from hundreds of job postings, resumes and professional profiles, according to its own website. It is an open-access skills database that provides an up-to-date collection of the real-world skills that people have and employers value. The skill library is updated every two weeks based on live postings and profiles, as well as suggestions from the community submitted through the Emsi Skills website.

Build the right job description

I know I struggle with job descriptions that come up short. Some are too long and lose a candidate’s interest while others are not truly describing the job I would like to market. Even if the job description is decent, it usually lacks the key words needed to leverage the power of SEO (search engine optimization), leaving it to fall on the second or third page of search results. Emsi will give job postings clarity by auditing desired skills and level setting expectations with hiring managers.

Managers often forget key skills they need for the role and simply hit the high points during the recruiter intake meeting. The Emsi Skills tool gives recruiters the ability to delve deeper into a job to develop the most effective search terms for their sourcing strategy.

Bonus: This tool is also a great enhancement for those of us dedicated to internal recruiting. It will allow firms to match employees quickly to jobs based on their skills versus what an employee may put on their resume. More on this later in the post!

Skill Clustering

In  New Geography of Skills, economist Enrico Moretti discussed an interesting idea. He suggests there are economic shifts happening on a more micro than macro level. Emsi has taken a unique approach to analyzing skills by looking for natural relationships between skills and seeing how they group or cluster together in a market or region.

Recruiters are dependent on the Labor Bureau statistics to create very rudimentary, outline-style lists of major skill sets. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t enjoy reviewing an exhaustive list of skills and its permutations to develop a search strategy. The Emsi Skills tool will graph skill groups into an easy to understand infographic. With Emsi, roles are defined based on a network of related skills as they emerge and shift in the market. See the example below:

This is one small step to help recruiters become more consultative and less reactive. By analyzing the relationships between skills and other aspects of work, we can infer
differences job titles and job skills. This small step will enable us to become more effective talent advisors to our clients.

Measuring the Internal Gap

As the market continues to heat up, companies will begin to focus even more inward to find and develop talent to meet the demands of the changing economy. The Emsi Skills tool will allow talent acquisition to measure internal talent against the enhanced job descriptions (created with Emsi’s help). Recruiters will finally have a tool to help clients create reskill and upskill strategies by analyzing underlying skills for different roles.

The focus on internal talent development and retention is a hot topic right now. As companies fight for talent in the market, some have chosen to focus and invest in their own talent rather than fighting for talent on the street. This strategy can prove to not only help with retention but also with employer branding. Numerous surveys point to a workforce more inclined to work for a company that invests in the continuous development of its employees. Emsi enables companies to finally compare employee skills to emerging skills trends to drive learning and development priorities.


I’ve used the Emsi Skills tool on most of my searches over the last thirty days and have found it incredibly ease to use and insightful. It can help anyone in HR become more informed and impactful to their business. Most of the similar tools in the market come with a hefty price tag and do not meet the level of insight the Emsi Skills tool provides.

I plan to write another post focused primarily on how recruiters can use Emsi to develop better search strategies and own the talent market.

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