Thinking differently in the face of a skills shortage

Rethinking recruiting in the face of a skills shortage

There’s a lot of talk lately around ‘The Great Resignation’, and the difficulty in finding and securing quality talent with the right skills and experience to fill an ever-increasing number of vacancies.

With 75% of employers reportedly looking to fill openings this winter, and 46% of those roles being categorised as ‘hard to fill’, the balance is very much in favour of candidates when it comes to recruitment, with vacancies currently outnumbering the applicants to fill them.

Not only is this a challenge for today; many of the in-demand jobs we are seeing advertised, such as those relating to Social Media, didn’t even exist 10 years ago. Businesses need to be keeping an eye on the future and thinking now about what capability they need to build within their teams for the next 10 years.

So how do we go about turning this around and finding those ‘gold dust’ candidates – do we keep plugging away and hope for the best? Or is it time to think a little differently?

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How important are skills and experience anyway?

When looking to recruit, most managers focus on a candidates’ previous experience and/or the skills they possess which are relevant to the role that they are trying to fill.

But, have you ever been turned down for a role because you did not fit the exact requirements in the job specification, even though you knew that with the right investment and guidance you would be able to do the job?

And how does the traditional approach of looking at a person’s skills and experience stack up when we are thinking ahead to jobs that we can’t even imagine yet?

How many fantastic people are we possibly overlooking because they don’t fit the exact requirements that we are looking for right now?

Spotting potential

Contrary to the traditional selection methods we use, research consistently shows us that the best predictors of future success do not lie in what we see in a person’s CV, but what we see in their psychology and innate abilities i.e. in them as a person.

Traits such as aptitude, adaptability and the ability to build relationships, as well as a positive and passionate mindset, are key indicators of potential within an individual. The ability to learn quickly and change with the times means that, with the right environment and development opportunities, a high potential person could ultimately perform any role they set their minds to.

Spotting potential during recruitment doesn’t require the use of a crystal ball in your interviews. Ask the right questions – such as a strengths, competency or behaviour-based approach, and pay attention to how you feel about the person sitting in front of you (of course remaining mindful of unconscious bias). Are they keen to learn and get stuck in? Are they excited and energised by change? Do they make you feel excited just by talking with them? If so, you may be looking at a person with high potential.

Bringing it all together

Great news, you have filled that tricky vacancy with someone who has a really promising future, but needs some skill development to fulfil the immediate need, so now what?

One thing that can’t be overlooked is that this approach does require a shift in focus and a genuine commitment to the ongoing learning and development of your team. You will need to have the ability to quickly and effectively develop the required skillsets so that new recruits can hit the ground running; this could be using methods such as formalised training programmes, on-the-job learning, or job shadowing. However you go about it, it’s vital to keep high potential recruits engaged and continuously learning so that you can get the best out of them.

So, give it a try: reframe your expectations of what you are looking for when you next interview – think less about whether the candidate in front of you ticks all of your boxes from a skill and experience point of view; and think more about whether they have the characteristics which show the potential to tick all of those boxes, and more, in the future. Not only will this approach help you in the current market, you will be on your way to building a more agile team ready for the future.

Talk to our HR experts for practical advice on effective selection methods and talent development.

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