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March 2, 2017 / Mervyn Dinnen

5 Ways to Deal With Skill Mismatches

72% of Directors and business leaders are worried about their skills pipeline. Permanent candidate availability is at an all time low. Skills gaps are reaching crisis proportions. 740,000 more people with digital skills will be needed in the workforce this year alone. Half of recent graduates are working in non-graduate jobs. 66% of engineering graduates don’t work in engineering. 1 in 4 vacancies are going unfilled.

Barely a week goes by without statistics like these being used to demonstrate an acute skill shortage. And for recruiters, there’s more. Time to hire is rising. Cost per hire increasing. Interview processes getting longer. Recruiters have more open requisitions than ever. Quality of hire is going unmeasured but, anecdotally, could be better. Productivity is affected.

What can be done? To rely on bringing in developed skills and finding the ready made, perfect fit candidate from outside isn’t the answer. Waiting for a magical piece of sourcing code to help identify candidates with perfect skill sets from across different platforms isn’t the answer either. Even if you could find them, how do you they would join you? What have you got to offer them?

Your vacancy isn’t always the holy grail for a job seeker. Sure, some of the positions you are trying to fill might present interesting challenges for them, but then so might other vacancies in other companies. Even if you had a steady stream of candidates, how many would come and work for you?

In times of heightened hiring challenges, you need to be a place where people want to work. If you’re not, then no amount of sourcing, searching, advertising and referring is going to produce successful results in the long term. Here’s what you need to be doing first…

Consult with hiring managers

You are the recruitment professional, and the labour market – where the skills are – is your specialist area. When you take a briefing from a hiring manager be armed with all the data and manage their expectations. Know what the market is like for candidates with the skills you need. Educate the hiring manager in where the candidates are, what the pool looks like. Use data from REC, FIRM, ONS, job boards and sites like Indeed and Broadbean to make your case and let them understand where there are candidate shortages and what roles create the most competition.

Don’t just accept a job description, particularly one that replicates what the last incumbent did, but rip it up and find out what the role really needs – skills, competencies, capabilities. Begin to build a profile of what you will be looking for and how to assess it. Re-design the role if needs be around the kind of skills and experience available and help the hiring manager to understand the candidates they will be getting.

And test the hiring manager. Can they sell the company or vacancy? Are they a credible interviewer? Candidates always say that the key interview is the one with the manager they’ll be working for, so what impression will they get?

Understand the internal market

Know the talent pool inside your organisation – what skills people have and who is ready for a new challenge and an internal move, or stretch assignment, to help with their development. Make sure your managers are talent producers, not talent hoarders, and encourage them to support employees with internal moves. Identify the people who could develop with some training or input, and convert those you have into the candidates you need. Remember, people want to work for an organisation that helps them grow, develop and realise their potential, so play your part in making the company a place where that happens.

Research the external market

Do you know what candidates look for when they change jobs? How to make your company and open roles attractive? Well find out! There’s plenty of content out there about what job seekers really want, or why not do your own research amongst candidates and people who have applied previously.

What three things are most important to them? Do you market your roles to show that your organisation can provide them with what they want? People with the skills you need might be out there but not responding to your messaging or not perceiving you as a place where they would want to work.

Leverage all the networks you can. Previous candidates, alumni, clients, customers, suppliers and collaborators all have a relationship with your organisation, and all of them have connections. Somewhere in those extended networks might be the person you need. Find a way to reach them and get your message across.

EVP & Employer Brand

What are you like to work for? How does the employee experience shape up? The way you hire, orientate, develop, engage and retain people counts. The way you treat people and support them in reaching their own goals and fulfilling their potential will mark you out as a great place to work. What is your external brand? Does it align with internal values? The early period of employment is when someone reaffirms their decision to join you. If you don’t have an experience that underlines they have made the right choice in joining you – they’ll leave.

Candidate Experience and Recruitment Process

Have you applied for your own jobs? Do you know what the experience is like? Take feedback from candidates going through your hiring process and act upon what you hear. And don’t just take feedback at the end as it will be affected by the outcome.

You can’t expect there to be a pool of skilled and work ready candidates waiting to jump through hoops, endure long absences of communication and non-existent feedback, and work their may through a selection and interview process resembling the labours of Hercules, just to join you. So ditch the gladiatorial approach to hiring.

Make it easy to apply. Give information and let people show you what they can do. The technology is there so why not let people take video interviews at a time to suit them. Find out how they can perform when they are relaxed, rather than trying to find the perfect fit by seeing how they react under pressure.

You can tell a lot about a company by the way they go about recruiting and enabling their people. Stop waiting for the perfect match to come along and start sending out the right messages about the kind of place you are for people who want to learn, grow, develop and reach their potential.

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