If you’re feeling the crunch of the talent gap, you’re not alone. The numbers agree with you – employers across the country are facing the worst talent gap crisis since 2007. In fact, there were almost 6 million unfilled positions as of September 2016, a staggering statistic for a nation that has worked so hard to pull itself out of the record unemployment rates of the Great Recession.
So why are we feeling the talent gap now more than ever? What’s changed?
While there are a number of factors, one significant reason is the vast number of options currently available to jobseekers. Not only does today’s technology allow jobseekers to look anywhere and everywhere – including overseas – for open positions that specifically meet their needs, but workplaces have figured out what employees want (or at least they think they have) and are trying their hardest to snatch the best of the best from their competitors. From beer taps and flexible hours to remote work options and onsite daycare, employers have to work harder than ever to attract the best and the brightest. The options are endless, as are the places jobseekers can go to search.
On the flip-side however, many employers – whether intentionally or not – have eliminated positions by replacing workers with technologies that don’t necessarily perform the same one-to-one role or function. There are endless software and cloud computing tools that are now well within a small or mid-sized company’s budget – so it’s tempting for employers to purchase an off-the-shelf cloud tool and run with it, giving them a false sense of effectiveness when it comes to who or what is actually doing the work in their organization. Yet the reality is that most tools will never be able to replace the work of a human being. In other words, the talent gap is perpetuated with the allure of inexpensive cloud products and employers still aren’t getting the results they want. In fact, a recent Goldman Sachs report on the current jobs gap identifies the fact that while automation and tools may eliminate certain job functions, they also open up new human-only roles that require skilled oversight of the tools and automation themselves. So maybe the robots aren’t going to replace us after all.
So what can an employer do? A lot actually.
The first step for employers to take is to recognize that it’s not that there’s a lack of talent, but rather that there’s a lack of adaptation in how employers attempt to match goals to roles to prospective hires. If you can’t fill your open Blacksmith position then it might be time to hire a 3D printer technician instead. Roles and goals must evolve together.
Working out from this premise, you must determine the relationship between your processes and people. What do you actually need? What can your technology do? What gaps do you need filled that only a real human being can perform? Then, tailor your job descriptions to exactly what you need. And yes, it’s ok to leave some wiggle room in there but let’s be honest… there’s a lot of copy/pasting going on when employers are scrambling to post an open position.
Finally, employers need to recognize that you can’t continue relying on perks as the competitive advantage in your space. Sure, an onsite gym and free snacks are appealing and may even help you attract desirable employees – but can you retain them with these shiny things? Studies show that millennials consistently desire meaningful work above a large compensation plan or other perks. In other words, they’re looking for a connection to a cause and a sense of purpose and meaning as a direct result of their work at a certain organization. Focus on that. Ensure that you’re creating a sense of partnership with your new hires through the shared mission of the organization. This is crucial to attracting and maintaining employees.
Bottom-line: We need to rethink the way we talk about the “talent gap.” It’s up to us as leaders to keep our organizational structures and roles evolving at the same pace as the technology products we use within our walls. You can’t break through the noise and find the right people by doing the same thing you did in the past. Tailoring the job description – and actual role – to the right audience is key, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle. Still overwhelmed? Check out Smart HR’s recruiting services. We’re here to help.