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5 Tips for closing the skills gap

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR PayScale’s 2014 Best Compensation Practices Report revealed that employers are still very much concerned about the skills gap. According to the survey, which culled responses from 5,000 executives and HR professionals, nearly 50 percent of companies are having trouble filling positions with skilled labor. While not everyone agrees that a skills gap exists (or at least exists to the degree publicized in some media outlets), most do agree that something in the job market is awry when employers are complaining about not being able to find qualified workers even as job seekers complain they are qualified yet still unable to find stable, full-time employment.

Crystal Spraggins, SPHR

PayScale’s 2014 Best Compensation Practices Report revealed that employers are still very much concerned about the skills gap.

According to the survey, which culled responses from 5,000 executives and HR professionals, nearly 50 percent of companies are having trouble filling positions with skilled labor.

While not everyone agrees that a skills gap exists (or at least exists to the degree publicized in some media outlets), most do agree that something in the job market is awry when employers are complaining about not being able to find qualified workers even as job seekers complain they are qualified yet still unable to find stable, full-time employment.

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That said, and regardless of what anyone believes, if you’re an employer unable to fulfill customer demands and/or your own plans for growth because you don’t have the right personnel, you’ve got a problem in need of solving. What can you do?

Here are 5 suggestions.

  1. Adjust your expectations
    Despite the fact that it’s not exactly working for them, some employers still believe the “perfect” candidate—someone who checks all the “required” and “preferred” boxes, who has a great personality, and who’s willing to work for what the employer cares to pay and not a penny more—is theirs for the taking. A recent survey, however, found that 31 percent of offers are being rejected because the candidate has another job offer. The survey also found that 37 percent of openings are caused by resignations. It would appear that waiting on perfect, instead of hiring to standard, isn’t always a good business decision.
  2. Be willing to train 
    In “Why The Manufacturing Skills Gap Is Serious,” it’s noted that “some manufacturers have … placed emphasis on peer input by developing apprenticeship programs in order to circumvent some of the missing skills.” While an employer may be reluctant to invest in training when he could hire a worker who already has the necessary skills, this stance is self-defeating in the face of persistent and stubborn job vacancies.
  3. Be willing to offer more 
    It almost goes without saying that people with specialized skills expect to be paid commensurate with those skills. If you’re finding that all your best candidates are asking for more money or better benefits than you’re offering, it’s time to consider whether your compensation package needs an overhaul.
  4. Hire independent contractors 
    In general, contractors will be more experienced and better skilled and won’t require  much supervision. And, the higher hourly rate you’ll likely pay will be offset by the lack of benefits.
  5. Tighten your hiring practices 
    Arduous application processes (including clumsy online systems), extended decision-making periods, multiple interviews, and unrealistic job qualifications are all things that frustrate job seekers and cause you to lose good candidates—in some cases before the recruiting process has barely begun.

From time to time, it’s normal to have a position that’s more difficult to fill than some others. However, if your hard-to-fill positions have become more the norm than the exception, it may be time to rethink your overall recruiting strategy.

 

Laleh Hassibi
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