It’s time to shake up the way you do things to beat the skills shortage

I read and hear many people blaming the skills shortage for why they’re not able to achieve their business objectives. I’ve also been hearing many recruiters bemoan how tough the market is right now to recruit.

I have no doubt that it is more difficult than before to recruit staff of all types. Illness, isolation periods, lockdowns, and the lack of international travel caused by Covid-19 have all significantly impacted the availability of talent and contributed to the current skills shortage.

But when there is a significant issue (and, let’s face it – it would really be more apt to call this a crisis than an issue) a change in behaviour is required. The famous moniker goes ‘the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results,’ so why are recruiters working the same way we were 10 years ago, and expecting different results in this vastly changed world?

It’s time for recruiters to critically re-evaluate how they do things, and whether their modus operandi is still fit for purpose. So, assuming that recruitment and staff development are critical to longer-term business stability and growth, here are six key areas that I believe all recruiters should be focussing on and critical questions you should be asking yourself to best achieve success.

  1. Talent criticality and scarcity

Understanding your most critical and scarce roles allows you to prioritise. It allows you to understand the vulnerable spots in your business, and also creates business focus and a nexus to business outcomes.

Question: Have you classified your positions by job family and scored them on a criticality and scarcity matrix?

  1. Market or talent intelligence

Understanding the market for skills – in other words, demand and supply – is of critical importance before you embark on the journey of an important assignment. If you can understand this, and also where your employer brand and value proposition, fits you can make decisions. This may mean you need to change your requirements, use a different search approach, or change your value proposition.

Question: Do you undertake a market intelligence assessment before recruiting for critical roles?

  1. Position requirements

In many cases mandatory position requirements are overstated, which significantly limits the candidate pool. Ensuring that mandatory requirements are just that – mandatory – helps minimise this risk. You can assess whether requirements are mandatory or not by simply correlating the requirements to the position’s business outputs and key ability to perform the job.

Question: Do you confirm with the business that all the mandatory requirements are really needed and are connected to the output of the position? (ie. we need this requirement such that the person can…..)

  1. Talent acquisition resources

I frequently hear recruiters bemoan the fact that they don’t have the people or access to external resources to undertake this type of foundational work. Really? If you are an RPO this is most likely how you would be operating. And moreover, if these roles that you are struggling to fill are critical to long-term business sustainability and growth, can you really afford not to have these resources in place?

Question: do you have, or can you gain, access to sufficient talent acquisition resources to fill positions?

  1. Buy Vs build (internal mobility)

When considering critical, scarce, or important positions, a conversation with the business on who internally may be suitable to undertake or train for the position is worthwhile. There are now many applications that proactively support internal mobility including winner of the 2021 ATC Innovation Lab Flow of Work.

Question: do you have a conversation around internal mobility with the business before commencing to recruit important roles?

  1. Sourcing strategy

Developing a sourcing map to consider all ways to recruit a position is a great way to cover the market and improve your opportunity to fill the position. Many great sourcers like Glen Cathey, Simon Townsend, and Martin Warren use a layered mind map. Sharing this map with the business and gaining alignment and additional input is a great way to partner with the business.

Question: do you complete a sourcing plan and share it with the business for key roles?

How did you go? If you answered yes for 4 or more of the 6 questions you should have confidence that you are in a strong position to fill important roles. If you have answered yes to 3 or lower, then you’ve got a bit of work to do!

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