Hiring exceptional talent is one of the most critical responsibilities for virtually any organization hoping to build strong teams. It’s been called both an art and a science, and even the best, most successful hiring managers will admit that it’s really — really — hard.
And as the dust from the Great Resignation continues to swirl around us with no signs of settling, the entire process of attracting and retaining the right people for the right roles is growing increasingly difficult. It’s long and complicated, and when 46% of all new hires fall through within 18 months (a stat that’s held true for almost 20 years), businesses of all shapes and sizes are searching for answers.
Maybe you’ve experienced such high levels of turnover that it feels like as soon as one open position is filled, another opens up. Or maybe you bring someone in just to have them resign after six months of training. Or, perhaps, there’s a mass shortage of the physicians, nurses, and other highly skilled healthcare professionals your organization needs.
Good news: You’re not alone — nearly every hiring manager in your position is having the same issues. In fact, half of all workers say their companies are currently understaffed. And just over 19% of all hospitals in the U.S. are experiencing critical staffing shortages, so it’s not just you.
There are some specific reasons for this, too. Each industry is unique in its own way, but there are still a few factors that have significantly impacted every sector of the workforce.
Here’s what we’ve found:
It’s a Job Seeker’s Market
For a long time, employers had the right of first refusal to hundreds of thousands of job applicants. But there’s no denying that dynamic has flipped. In the past decade, momentum shifted dramatically, and now workers wield more power in the labor market than ever before. The result is a classic case of supply vs. demand, and there’s just not enough qualified professionals to fill the millions of open positions across the country. (The number of job openings in the U.S. hit a record high of 11.855 million in March of 2022.)
What’s even more striking is that The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently pinpoints the job-seekers ratio between 0.4 and 0.5. (At its peak in April of 2020, that ratio was 4.9.) Every industry is feeling the impact, too, with healthcare, retail, and hospitality in particularly dire straits.
This creates a high-stakes competition between employers that makes hiring qualified candidates a feat of almost unimaginable difficulty.
Candidates Lack Essential Skills
Skills-based hiring is taking the world by storm.
There’s just one problem: The current educational landscape doesn’t prepare learners for success outside the classroom. So if you’re lucky enough to have all those bright-eyed candidates come bursting through your door asking for a job, they may have an impressive GPA and admirable volunteer experience, but lack the basic skills required of a new hire. We’re talking about that perfect blend of soft and technical skills that even seasoned workers often lack: professionalism, communication, fundamental job knowledge, etc.
And when job candidates don’t have the right skills, it isn’t easy to justify the time and energy it will cost to get them thoroughly trained and ready to work — if they even stick around that long.
Education and Degrees are Flawed Metrics
We no longer live in a world where traditional college degrees define individual success. A diploma once held tremendous sway in the eyes of employers, but as we noted above, that specific approach failed to prepare the incoming workforce and arm them with the practical experience they need to succeed.
It also left a massive gap between the information professionals know, and the information employers need them to know. That’s why the measurable abilities individuals display in real-world scenarios are far more valuable to employers than an expensive piece of paper.
Maybe that’s also why a recent survey found that 77% of team leaders — across several industries — are shifting more towards hiring based on applicants’ verified competencies.
Yet, while hands-on experience, industry-recognized certifications, and skills assessments are all reliable benchmarks of competence, they still leave a big question mark in several key areas:
- Willingness to learn
- Work ethic
- Problem-solving abilities
Think of all these traits as reflections of inner character that can’t be learned in a classroom, seminar, or job orientation. They’re difficult to measure, too, which makes screening for these skills a bit of a headache.
As a collective whole, these unique challenges may seem like immovable roadblocks that you’ll never break through. If job seekers have all the power, if candidates lack fundamental skills, and if you can’t always screen for the qualities that make for the best employees, how can you possibly hope to keep up with your staffing demands?
First, empower current employees with opportunities for learning and development. We’ve written about this in greater detail here, but it’s all about investing in one of your greatest appreciating assets — people — to future-proof your organization.
Second, upskill and reskill new and current employees based on industry shifts and needs.
Third, de-emphasize the resume and evaluate the incoming workforce. Use job technology that cross-references your organizational needs with the skills and competencies of professionals in your area.
With the right mindset and the right strategy, you can reverse these troubling trends. And, you can do so all while decreasing turnover, increasing engagement, and building strong teams that are bursting at the seams with motivated talent.