Are we creating a self-imposed war for talent?

One of the most thought-provoking discussions at the Hiring Success 2020 conference was one lead by Melissa Murray Bailey, Head of North America Talent Brand and Hiring Solutions at LinkedIn. In her session entitled, “What the Global Economic Graph Says About the Skills Gap,” Melissa asked a captivated audience of recruiters if they realized how the rapid progression of requirements that they added to job descriptions impacted the available talent pool.  In a nutshell: Are we creating an environment of talent scarcity by the way we recruit?

We often hunt for the highly qualified and most experienced candidate who checks every single box. As recruiters, we create sophisticated Boolean searches to narrow hundreds of candidates down to the cream of the crop. We are certain that the group of candidates who make the cut will help us achieve our goals to develop a superior product, bring new customers, help the company pivot into a new direction. The reality is what we’re left with is an extremely shallow pond with heightened competition to secure talent.

We can’t have a conversation about the skills gap without talking about automation and artificial intelligence. Will it destroy jobs or create them? According to Melisa, the World Economic Forum predicts that automation will eliminate 75 million jobs but create 135 million new jobs. Sounds like good news, right? Not exactly. The problem is that many of these new jobs will require a skillset the current workforce does not have or has, but in a very limited capacity.

So how do we bridge this skills gap?

The answer might be right in front of us. We are overlooking a vast talent pool of competent, capable, and hungry professionals. Though they might not check all our boxes, with proper training and leadership they can outshine their peers.

Is it a strong work ethic? The right culture fit and alignment with your vision? Or a niche technical skill? Look beyond the 20-item checklist of requirements and focus on the top must-have expertise and experience while considering untapped or under-tapped sources for skill and savvy:

  • Military veterans: There are 326,000 unemployed veterans in the US. Former military personnel have strong problem-solving and critical-thinking expertise as well as teamwork and leadership skills.
  • Who needs an office? Stay-at-home parents have previous work experience and once they are ready to return to the workforce, are keen to foster work/life balance by work remotely.
  • Baby boomers:  35% of the population is 55+ and that number continues to grow. The “unretired” can bring a different perspective, breadth of experience, and impeccable work ethic to the table.
  • Formerly incarcerated: Our country has the same number of people with criminal records as it does four-year college graduates. There are many people out there who deserve a second chance to become a valued member of their community.
  • Disabled: Meeting challenges is an ordinary part of the day for the disabled, and finding “out of the box” methods to accomplish them is an ordinary approach to finding solutions.

Here’s a refreshing approaching to talent acquisition: Let’s build strong, diverse and capable teams from untapped talent pools that can adapt to the requirements of the digital age and pick up the new skills required to foster a more holistic approach, broader vision, and out-of-box thinking.

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