How to Overcome the Dreaded Skills Gap When Sourcing Talent


There has been no shortage of news coverage regarding the “skills gap” wherein there seems to be an ongoing shortage of qualified talent in certain skill sets. You can probably guess which roles are hardest to find candidates to fill. IT roles like Computer Systems Analysts and Web Developers are always in short supply and high demand, as are Registered Nurses and other healthcare related jobs. The costs associated with the longer fill-times for these skills gap workers is a point of concern for workforce managers everywhere. But there are some creative steps to be taken to mitigate some of the pain of the skills gap. Here are some of them for your consideration.

The key to overcoming the skills gap lies in developing an effective strategy to address it. Think holistically about the work needing to be accomplished and creative ways to tackle it. One idea involves (where possible) aligning high demand roles with locations where greater populations of the needed talent are concentrated. It may sound like a heavy lift, but if all your IT operations are situated in South Florida and there are only a handful of the type of techies you need to fill the 100+ openings you have for that role, what choice do you have besides seeking more productive hunting grounds? Identify technology hub locales such as New York City, Northern California, Atlanta and suggest moving those critical IT operations to those areas. If such a move is impractical or impossible, think about what you may be able to outsource or accomplish through a third party via a statement of work arrangement.

Another creative idea focuses on engaging your staffing partners. Build a partnership with an employer of record (EOR) firm to take on any resources you may have identified but only need to engage for a fixed project. This is also an option when you find talent that does not necessarily want to commit to a full time role. In the gig economy, in-demand workers are feeling the power of their marketability and many prefer to work as independents. The EOR channel enables you to tap these resources more effectively.

Some of what can be done is just good, old-fashioned, shoe leather networking. Focus on fostering and nurturing partnerships with staffing vendors to better ensure access to their top talent. Through these relationships, you can more effectively deploy communications or offer knowledge-sharing sessions about specific requisitions, upcoming needs or large initiatives. Gain the feedback of the staffing vendors on the best ways to staff a project, especially if they are aware of other local employers who may be ramping down resources etc.

Here’s a good tip! Identify staffing vendors who are known to partner with community colleges or technical trade schools. Staffing vendors often actively recruit at technical schools and community colleges to connect recent graduates with opportunities. Or, take this one step further and build partnerships with these talent sources yourself. Attend career fairs. Make inroads with the career outplacement centers of these institutions. Those kind of partnerships can lead to the development of steady, fruitful talent pools.

Consider offering contract-to-hire programs to make it less of a commitment for an independent to accept work with your organization. The old, “no commitments” line from your ancient dating past can be attractive yet! Define within your contracts with staffing suppliers a conversion table after a set time period. Typically, time frames are measured in hours or days worked and provide the ability to hire the worker at no or little cost. This can be a bit more difficult to execute but it has been known to work.

Lastly, consider a training existing employees for roles you need to fill. Invest in a Learning Management tool and provide incentives to workers who achieve external and internal training goals with rewards. There’s something inherently attractive about a company that is willing to invest in its workers and this can be a powerful tool for additional recruitment as well.

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