3 Simple Ways to Combat the Talent Shortage

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Oct 9, 2018

If you’re experiencing a talent shortage, you’re not alone. Manpower’s 2018 Global Talent Shortage Report found that 45% of employers globally are struggling to fill positions. As difficult as that statistic suggests, it doesn’t mean you need to compromise and hire the wrong person for the job. Quite the contrary, there are a number of simple ways to combat talent shortages, whether you look to internal staff or tap into the freelance economy.

Keep these ideas in mind as you continue recruiting for open positions. You may find a small change is all you need to eliminate this challenge altogether.

1. Look to non-traditional candidates

We live in a world where anyone with access to the Internet can learn how to code, how to write better, or how to sell digital products. In many cases, people with no professional training in these areas are even running their own side hustle businesses, giving them real-world experience with the skills your position requires.

If you’re experiencing a talent shortage, open initial interview rounds to those who fall within the category of “self-taught” or “non-traditional.” Carrie Varoquiers, vice president of WorkDay explains the value of doing so:

As employers and hiring managers, we have the opportunity to open the top of the funnel to include candidates that may not have had a linear path through higher education or any previous corporate work experience, or have large gaps on their resumes due to caregiving breaks. In turn, we get access to untapped talent that benefits our business and creates a more inclusive culture while providing people with on-ramps to thriving careers.

To find these non-traditional candidates Varoquiers suggests these four simple steps:

  1. Don’t over-inflate job descriptions. Varoquiers gives the example of including a 4-year degree as a requirement only if it’s truly needed for the job.
  2. Interview based on skills and potential, rather than simply relying on resumes and professional experience.
  3. Find mutually beneficial partnerships with organizations that are already placing non-traditional candidates. They have experience vetting these potential employees and can be helpful as you test this new recruiting strategy.
  4. Keep the learning going and make growth mindset an important part of your company culture.

2. Reskill your current employees

Education is an important way to retain the employees you already have. Employees value education, according to a Bridge survey of 2,000 people, which found that “a culture of learning” outweighed work-life balance, benefits, and free meals for driving engagement and loyalty.

It’s also a way to full positions — if you can’t find what you need outside the doors of your office, perhaps it’s best to turn to the loyal employees who already work for you. Reskilling talent allows you to give employees what they want, education, while winning the battle against the current talent shortage.

You may already know, however, that this will be a challenging initiative to get past leadership, who often push learning to the back burner. As you put together a plan to implement this strategy, or simply prepare to present the idea to your executive team, make your case more powerful with data.

For example, technical talent is often the hardest positions to hire for. In fact, information technology positions are the second hardest to fill, according to the Manpower Talent Shortage Report, with “lack of available applicants” and “lack of hard skills” being the top causes. What’s worse, the 2018 Developer Learning Survey says, “When highly-skilled technical workers are denied the opportunity to grow their skills, they begin to look elsewhere for employment.”

In this case, reskilling your technical talent serves dual purposes: It helps you keep your highly-skilled employees while finding the right person in-house for positions that may be otherwise impossible to fill. Consider how you can find similar benefits to reskilling other teams within the organization. It may be best to start with the teams that need new hires, and broaden the reskilling initiative as needed.

3. Tap the freelance economy

It’s been coined the “gig economy” and it’s changing the way companies find talent. Not only does tapping into this worldwide economy give you access to a much wider pool of potential candidates, but having contract and freelance employees allows you to be more agile. Wade Burgess, CEO of Shiftgig, wrote in his recent TLNT article:

Businesses need workforce agility in order to win in today’s volatile business environment. Whether we’re facing a talent shortage or surplus, or an economic upturn or downturn, having a workforce that can flex up or down quickly will actually create business stability in the long run.

This is especially true when you consider that 57.3 million US workers earned at least something freelancing or temping in 2017. That’s 35% of the American workforce, and indications are the numbers will continue to grow. Hiring freelance employees now allows you to set processes in place for recruiting, onboarding and managing before this trend becomes the norm. At the same time, you’re able to solve your current problem by tapping into a larger pool of talent to combat current talent shortages. This is an especially attractive solution if your talent need is for short-term help or you’re uncertain about making a full-time hire just now.

Don’t let a lack of talent drive you to hire the wrong person for the job. Instead, use these ideas to rethink the way you recruit. Tap into the freelance economy, reskill the talent you already have or simply look to “non-traditional” candidates. Choose the best option for your talent needs and refine the new recruiting processes as you go.

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