Recruiting in a Talent Shortage

Despite the obvious challenges and reflections of 2020, we were lucky here in Australia, and ended the year in pretty good shape. 2021 has forged ahead with encouraging vigour, but there is certainly talk about talent shortages. We are currently experiencing one of the highest reported talent shortages in the past decade, with 46% of employers (compared to 44% of global employers) reporting difficulty filling open jobs. The statistics regarding business-critical employees are a little concerning and according to a recent Global Workforce Trends Survey, 69% of respondents in Australia and 80% of global respondents are experiencing challenges acquiring critical talent.

The five fields that present the greatest challenges are:

  1. Information Technology
  2. Engineering
  3. Project Management
  4. Customer Service
  5. Skilled Trades (carpentry, electrical, and HVAC)

What is causing the shortage?

According to Ron Hetrick, former director of a major labour market intelligence group “an exit of professionals that defined the bulk of the workforce for the last 50 years, changing attitudes toward the nature of work, and an active economy.” These trends are not limited to Australia; they apply to the majority of developed economies. The supply and demand issue isn’t as straightforward as it might first appear.

“While many look to the talent shortage as being driven by the exit of the Baby Boomer generation, you have to also look at the other generation categories – including Gen Xers, Gen Y/Millennials and Gen Z/Centennials. While Baby Boomers, Gen Xers & Yers were more interested in entering the career track as soon as possible, The Gen Z/Centennials are making that commitment later. For example, some Centennials take a gap year after graduation, and others decide to further their education. In addition, only 49% of students even graduate on time.

The greatest talent shortages seem to be in IT, and according to a recent Robert Half Technology report, tech leaders report urgent hiring needs in some areas in particular.  “It seems security, cloud-based, networking and development roles are the most challenging to fill,” according to a Sydney based specialist IT recruiter.  “Our latest research around hiring plans found that most leaders feel it’s challenging to find skilled talent.” Data science and analytics are other areas in which Australian companies are struggling to find candidates, and these companies are competing on a broader scale for employees.

The shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) talent is also felt throughout the corporate, government and even not-for-profit sectors.

Responding to changing talent markets

A shortage of employees can produce a myriad of negative effects – decreasing the company’s ability to grow, expand or even meet existing goals. Unfortunately, the reality is that companies will lose their competitive advantage unless they take a serious look at two key factors; ensuring they are or become more attractive to candidates, or train/up-skill existing employees.

As an example, in a hiring environment where technology talent has numerous options, organisations must take the time to market themselves better. Also, don’t drag your feet when you have the opportunity to hire the right person. Companies, with the help of their recruitment partners need to move faster than ever to make decisions on hires; you can’t afford to waste time when a strong candidate is presented.

So, how can a company compete in this talent market?

Firstly, consider partnering with a trusted recruiter and HR consulting firm who can assess, guide, and advise on your overall talent acquisition strategy and brand position, not to mention the potential blind spots you might need to address.  (Well, of course I must plug Optimum Consulting here as we can assist with all of this, and more)

Review your EVP & branding:

Do you have a compelling brand story? Are you confident on what value you present as a prospective employer in comparison to your competitors?

Partner with Recruiters around an ongoing strategy:

A trusted recruitment partner can work with their client around current and forecasted needs, execute a talent pooling structure and talent acquisition strategy. Even when you’re not actively hiring for a position, be transparent with your recruitment partner about upcoming projects and potential hiring needs.

Court the candidate:

The entire recruitment process from start to finish needs to leave a positive and indelible impression on candidates. Work closely with your HR team, your line managers, and your recruiter to ensure the hiring process and overall experience is professional, positive, and smooth.

Be across current market values and compensate accordingly:

Ultimately, compensation is always a driving factor and we’ve found our clients that have a strong understanding of market value for talent have better success with recruitment and retention.

Don’t forget about transferable skills:

Irrespective of industry vertical or function many skills can be applicable. For example, a data scientist that previously worked the numbers for an FMCG business can easily transfer that knowledge to a similar sized business in life sciences.

Simplify the job description:

To hire for transferable skills, consider your must-haves but aim to keep things simple. Minimum years of experience as an example, is seen as a traditional requirement but can often discount strong candidates. The rapid proliferation of innovative technologies has created a market for newly emerging skills, therefore, to engage top talent, companies should curb traditional requirements and be more open to what is truly required in the position.

Offer learning opportunities:

Many candidates are attracted to companies that offer learning opportunities and/or diversity in their work. Candidates want to know there is capacity or encouragement to up-skill and develop, so think about what your company can offer.

Work hard for your best workers:

Naturally every company wants to recruit good candidates, but companies also need to retain their best workers. This includes recognising and rewarding performance, promoting good workers, and look at ways to train good workers to become better. The key to recruiting and retainment today is about meeting the current needs, but also thinking ahead about your overall people strategy.

If you would like to discuss your current talent acquisition strategy, perhaps your company EVP or branding, please reach out to Optimum Consulting today.

Executive Consultant – Group Solutions

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