I was at a family reunion this last weekend and we were talking about recruiting issues. They were mentioning that despite unemployment numbers, they still had a hard time finding the right people for the most critical positions that were open. And it isn’t a question of technique, or pay or anything along those lines. It’s a situation where there is a genuine labor shortage. Only a few people could do this job in the country. They’ve done research and it is under 1,000 people.
This company has spent millions of dollars on talent acquisition alone in this one critical area of their business. Their problem isn’t going away anytime soon. And they are doing things to help but it isn’t enough.
So I asked who is going to blink first: the people that need to hire or the people that need the jobs? Whose will is going to break in order to make the tough decision that maybe it is time to retrain the workforce since many of the positions that existed a decade or two ago aren’t coming back.
Is there a third option? As I discussed with someone else, there is a short term solution. Importing talent has been going on for quite a while. The person I talked to said his company got 5% of the temporary visas they asked for though. And they certainly didn’t advertise that fact.
I was thinking later that to someone outside of the talent industry, this has to be a maddening conversation. And maybe I am starting to agree with them a bit.
So let’s say you’ve got one of these positions where there are a very limited number of people for the role. And you’re spending millions of recruiting dollars and you’re still falling short. What’s the solution?
Some recruiters would say devote more budget and more energy into recruiting.
Yuck. Talk about diminishing returns.
How about becoming a real talent pro and looking at the broader picture? Maybe it is time to do a lock down on your retention efforts. Every person you lose not only means another search, it means a person with institutional knowledge leaving the workplace.
What about internal training? You’ve got people interested in moving into this role but they don’t have the skills they need. You make it as easy as possible for them move up by offering training classes, education incentives, whatever. And that retention program will come in handy when you sell this to your boss.
How about external programs? Working with colleges, scholarships, adult educators… We could go on and on.
The current war for talent isn’t like it was hyped in the past. Right now, there are too many people with the wrong skill sets to do anything more than drift from contracting/freelancing, side jobs and occasional full time work below their level of experience. We were hoping for a war where finding is the difficult part, not a true shortage.
So if you’re one of the few companies looking for people and you’re having trouble finding them, wouldn’t it be great to alleviate some of that confusion by showing that you’re thinking outside of the box? That you want to hire people, that you don’t want to be constantly behind in those critical reqs.
Isn’t it time for us to stop waiting for candidates to blink and actually take some action?