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Human Resources, Talent Acquisition Strategy

5 Ways to Overcome a Talent Shortage

By Elizabeth Magill , February 22nd, 2018

As if recent economic concerns weren’t enough to keep businesses and organizations busy thinking outside the box for recruiting major talent, the new reality is that many fields are facing critical shortages when it comes to skilled workers. Some of the industries hardest hit and most in need of talented and experienced workers include IT, engineering, skilled trades, and the nursing field. Failing to bring in a talented workforce can render small and large businesses alike less success in today’s competitive marketplace.

Manpower Group recently released their findings from a 2012 Talent Shortage Research Study. It reveals that there are two primary reasons for this great difficulty filling certain positions. One is that there are not enough qualified applicants available to fill these positions. Two is that among the applicants, few actually have the hard skills necessary to do the jobs.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to attract top talent, despite the perception of a talent drought in the marketplace. In fact, consider these five ways to overcome a talent shortage.

1) Identify and utilize transferable skills – Chances are good that you have employees on staff that could fill some of the upper level positions that are available because they have skills in other areas that could easily transfer to the specific positions you’re interested in filling. The trick lies in identifying those with true potential for the new positions and responsibilities. You should also seek to employ people who have skills and talents beyond the scopes of their initial jobs with an eye on the future need for transferable skills.

2) Add training and development programs for existing staff – According to the Talent Shortage Survey mentioned above, only 25 percent of employers currently offer training to existing staff. Your current staff is your best place to begin the search for qualified candidates to fill open positions—particularly in the fields of IT and skilled trades. In the field of nursing, this is often done by offering advanced education opportunities outside of working hours for academic credits while working on advanced degrees such as RN to BSN degrees or master’s degrees for a more administrative role in the nursing hierarchy.

3) Look outside the local community – While it’s nice to build up the community in which you live and do business, there’s no reason to do so to the detriment of your business and your ability to provide jobs and livelihoods within the community in the future. If you’re having a tough time finding the right people to do the job inside your local pool of applicants, then it’s time to expand and move to the county, state, or nation for your employee search.

4) Shift focus towards retaining good employees – If companies today spent half as much time on retention as they did on recruitment, then shortages of labor may not be as critical as they have become. It’s time to start finding out why employees are leaving the company and making changes aimed at keeping them satisfied with their roles in your organization.

5) Offer signing bonuses and benefits packages – Benefits packages were decimated to some degree during the economic downturn. Many companies simply haven’t gone back to offering impressive benefits packages in the post-recession era of doing business. This will make your company stand out as an attractive place of employment to job seekers over other companies that do not offer them. The same can be said of signing bonuses. Depending on the jobs and the demand in your area you may have to think a little outside the box to make your signing bonuses a little sweeter than your competitors, but making the effort to do so will have skilled talent lining up to take the jobs you have to offer.

Overcoming the hardships of a talent shortage can seem like a uphill battle. However, the sooner you manage to do so, the sooner you’ll be able to move ahead of your competition because you’ll have the team and the talent your business needs in order to be truly successful.


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