Tackling the Talent Gap

According to the December jobs report, the unemployment rate is hovering at four-year low– but that’s not because more jobseekers are finding work, it’s because many have stopped looking altogether.

With 73 percent of companies reporting a “marked increase” in unsuitable job applicants, and President Obama attributing a third of our unemployment rate to “a mismatch between the skills of the workforce and available jobs” – it’s easy to see why they would.

But here is another stat to consider: Our team at Seven Step surveyed our network of 500 recruiters and found that fewer than five percent of respondents actually filled their 2012 job openings with candidates who met every one of the employer’s stated skills requirements.

So the question arises: Are companies causing the talent gap?

If you’re an employer, you can try this experiment to find out:

  • Identify your three top-performing employees and evaluate them against their job descriptions. Do they possess every skill listed?
  • If not, ask yourself these three questions: Are the skills they’re missing ones that can be taught? Are they less vital to their role in your organization than others listed that they do possess? Do they bring turnkey skills not even listed to their role?
  • If you answered yes to the above questions, then you’ve landed on a founding principal of our sourcing and recruitment strategies at Seven Step: The best candidate is rarely the one that employers initially think they are looking for.

Finding the right candidates during a talent shortage requires more than an audit of your company’s job descriptions – although that is a good first step. More than ever, companies can benefit from an outside perspective on which job skills are truly non-negotiable and how they can get creative in hiring and fostering existing talent. Follow these three tips to begin bridging the talent gap today:

  • Tap talent across industries – Short on bank tellers? Try tapping retail. Candidates from these “sister” industries share complimentary skills. If you are looking to fill positions in banking or customer service, now is the time to appeal to seasonal retail employees. After adding 143,000 jobs over the past three months, the retail sector lost 19,000 jobs in December, a trend that’s expected to continue this quarter. This is just one example of the types of synergies your company should be watching for.
  • Teach for success - At its core, the skills gap is an education issue and, let’s face it, most companies simply can’t wait for the education system to produce the talent they need right now. Employers need to meet candidates halfway by offering in-house training programs that leverage internal thought leaders, and an increasing array of free online courses, to educate new hires on the essential elements of their job. It may seem taxing at first, but employee training is a worthy investment – especially when you consider that that 89 percent of new hires fail in the first 18 months for attitudinal reasons, not for lack of technical skill.
  • Make talent acquisition a cornerstone of your company growth strategy – At Seven Step, we partner with CareerBuilder.com, Wanted Analytics and EMSI (Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.) to provide our clients with insights into the labor pressure (supply/demand) for their business needs. These insights do more than identify the pain points in our clients’ sourcing strategies – they illustrate where their sourcing opportunities lie as well. For example, our team used data on labor pressure to help one company decide where to open a critical new delivery center. By researching the national labor market, studying the labor pressures effecting their business and running some preliminary candidate searches, we were able to provide the company a short-list of locations that made sense for their business growth and talent acquisition strategies. This new center is now up and running. Rather than letting talent acquisition become a pain in your company’s side, made it a cornerstone of your larger growth strategy for even greater success.