The Ultimate Guide to Recruiting in a Talent Shortage: How to Turn Recruitment into a Competitive Advantage


Why is there a talent shortage?

The current Talent Shortage is a concern for three related reasons.

  1. The demand for qualified workers is far greater than there are people in the market to fill the open jobs. This talent shortage isn’t going away anytime soon.
  2. The “job-interupt-us” caused by COVID has encouraged people to explore their career options in other fields. And guess what?  The requirement for talent is larger than the supply across all industry globally. Talent shortages are no longer just the curse of the tech industry.
  3. The goal in hiring isn’t to find the best talent currently looking for work, or at least it shouldn’t be. What it should be: finding the best talent, period. And herein lies the recruiting challenge: the best talent isn’t looking for work. They already have jobs – good jobs. Even mediocre talent have jobs.

Despite this, a few organizations have turned recruiting into a competitive advantage generator.

Globalization, attrition, and changing demographics have contributed to the talent shortage.

Recruiting Top Talent is hard. COVID-19 and the Global Pandemic have exasperated three trends:

Demographics: A lower birth rate in North America combined with the aging of the Baby Boomer generation has resulted in a contraction of available executives. In other words, when an older executive retires, few younger workers are qualified to fill his shoes.

Brain Drain: In the 1980s and 1990s, companies may have saved money by trimming senior management ranks. But that brain drain coupled with attrition robbed them of their ability to grow the next generation of leadership.

Globalization: Companies in first-world countries have expanded their market around the globe. At the same time, countries that were once considered third-world nations have become economic powerhouses. As a result, the global need for all talent has been pushed beyond our capacity to produce it.

COVID-19 and the Global Pandemic have exasperated this because as more and more people learn to perform their jobs remotely; a.) many job hunters are now demanding that the option to work remote be in the job description, and b.) on the flipside, employers are freer to source talent including your key talent making employees engagement a vital reality.

Smart job seekers have changed how recruiting during an Industry Boom need work.

The internet has been a fantastic place for job seekers to find new opportunities. There are a lot of useful tools that have been developed to make the process of applying for jobs easier. For example, job boards, career websites and company websites.  These sites make it easier for candidates to find openings in their fields and apply online, saving them from having to spend hours sending out resumes and attending interviews in person.

There is a very real danger for job seekers to use traditional job boards. Most job boards require job seekers to register.  That exposes their interest in leaving their current employer – a dangerous move on the best of days. It’s a well-known fact that unscrupulous recruiters and HR departments troll job boards looking for disgruntled employees.  Recruiters are looking for possible job leads, and HR organizations have used this information to prepare riff lists.

Astute job seekers have heard about the dangers or registering on job boards from victims of the ploy or have figured it out on their own.  Today job seekers no longer ‘register’ at job boards.  Instead, many don’t use job boards at all, or they surf the big job boards to see what they can without registering. This in turn has frustrated many recruiters who are used to ‘fishing’ for people on job boards rather than hunting for talent.

What are the impacts of a talent shortage recruitment?

While there are plenty of impacts, one of the most relevant implications is that companies need to change their recruitment strategy – quickly.

Posting jobs on job boards which require candidates to register before they can read the jobs is a waste of time. Only the most desperate job hunters will do that, and risk being revealed to their current employer.

Instead, smart employers are hiring Sourcers and Recruiters to engage passive candidates.  These professionals are transforming the recruiting business by showing up where the Best Talent congregates.  FYI I’m not talking about stalking people – I’m speaking about being relevant and real to the targeted talent.  This goes way beyond simply using social media.

What’s the current thinking on recruiting in a talent shortage.

  • Traditional job boards are dead. People no longer register on job boards – top talent never did. Rather they’ll review opportunities anonymously to ensure the role fits their interests.
  • Recruiters are great talkers. Hence the reason job ads have always been written to grab a reader’s attention prompting a phone call. Today your ad needs to connect on an emotional and logical level.
  • Hired for Skills fired for Fit. You’ve no doubt heard the term. It’s a persistent quip amongst the HR community and yet that is exactly what they continue to not understand.  Instead, they drag countless job hunters through excessively arduous processes only to disqualify most for “fit”.    Culture is where most job hunters now focus first: “is this ‘culture’ right for me?”.
  • Culture rings hollow. The Best Talent regards discussions around ‘culture’ to be meaningless. They aren’t having any of it. That’s where the train jumps the tracks for 99.99% of all organizations. If you can’t define ‘culture’ in a meaningful way, it becomes a meaningless ‘squishy tree hugging platitude’.

All this to say, if your recruiters persist on drenching job boards with ads that promote, but can’t qualify, a unique “culture” – you’re DOA.  The Best Talent will scoff at the lack of effort and NOT CALL YOU.  They’ll simply disengage before you ever get the opportunity to interact.

Takeaways for recruiting during a Talent Shortage

Globally the time has come when even the best recruiters, prepared to spend freely, using the largest job boards out there, can’t find you the talent you need – let alone the Best Talent. When faced with severe skill shortages, companies need to change their recruitment strategy.

It’s common knowledge that companies with great talent significantly outperform their competitors. So, it should come as no surprise that the competition for talent is fierce.  The performance gap between the haves and have not companies is widening.

All this to say that effective recruiting – hiring greatness – is now at the core of what builds competitive advantage and a handful of recruiters are at the forefront, helping organizations revolutionize the way they build their teams.

Turning recruitment into a competitive advantage requires you to use a recruitment team at least as exceptional as the people you’re looking to hire.

About the Authors

David Perry helps companies find and bring on-board Industry 4.0 leaders. His most recent book, Hiring Greatness: How to Recruit Your Dream Team and Crush the Competition, shares the thinking it takes to land employees and generate wealth for the company. You can contact David at dperry@perrymartel.com www.perrymartel.com   Ron Wiens has spent the past 35 years helping organizations build high-performance cultures. His most recent book, Building Organizations that Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound, is a leader’s guide to culture as competitive advantage. You can contact Ron at ron@ronwiens.com www.ronwiens.com  Ron and David’s new  book, Revolutions  Need  Leaders: How to Recognize, Recruit and Retain Leaders in an Industry 4.0 World, will be available in 2023.

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