The global talent shortage is on every talent acquisition professional’s radar, but is it really as bad as it seems? Maybe a new approach is all that’s required. Talenytics CSO Howard Flint shares his thoughts. 

The results of our latest survey on the challenges for TA in 2019 are clear: talent leaders are more worried about the global talent shortage than any other issue this year. While it’s undeniable that the global talent industry is facing a struggle to find the right people to fill vacancies, I believe that the term ‘talent shortage’ is a misnomer. It’s far more accurate to say that we’re experiencing a talent shift.

Talent Shift, Not Talent Shortage

Studies project that global labour shortages of 85.2 million skilled workers are expected by 2030. However, compare that figure with the UN’s prediction for 2030’s world population – 8.5 billion – and suddenly it doesn’t seem so frightening. Surely somewhere amongst in the billions of people on earth there are the skills we need?

Logic alone would suggest that the problem isn’t a dearth of skilled and qualified candidates. Rather, we’ve been looking in all the wrong places. On a personal level, we’ve all had experiences with extremely capable ex-colleagues who fit the bill for a number of in-demand positions, but who still can’t find a job. There are plenty of good candidates in the market, so why are recruiters telling us they can’t find them?

Tools of the Trade

talent poolMost recruitment teams are addressing the difficulties in finding qualified candidates by testing and adopting some of the ever-increasing number of sourcing tools on the market. Sadly, despite the different packaging and promises of innovative search methods, these tools are still searching in the same talent pools as the recruiters themselves. Typically this narrow pool is restricted to candidates with an online profile containing the sort of keywords the job role entails.

If we really want to take an innovative approach, then surely casting a net in new ponds is the way to avoid catching the same old fish?

A New Approach

A classic example of fishing from the same old pond is when it comes to graduate recruitment. Many organisations are willing to reject perfectly capable candidates on the premise that they don’t possess a certificate from an (often unrelated) degree course; does that really indicate that a candidate is any more or less able to thrive in a job role if given the correct training? Perhaps our minds are just as narrow as our talent pools.

The good news is that taking a more open-minded approach to recruitment has never been more in vogue. Diversity and inclusion initiatives are becoming mainstream and are seen as a key sourcing strategy, but a common pitfall is searching for candidates who have only the slightest deviance from the norm.

The question I often put to talent leaders is frequently met with a positive reaction; why not examine every aspect of your traditional hiring model? Age, location, social background, education, experience in a different field… every assumption about the ‘right kind of candidate’ should be challenged in pursuit of finding people who are just as capable as your existing employees. You may just find an untapped talent pond.

Need help analysing long-held hiring assumptions? Talenytics makes your recruitment process more transparent and data-driven than ever before.

Howard Flint

Howard Flint

Chief Strategy Officer

Howard has worked in the HR and Recruitment sphere for almost 20 years. He is dedicated to providing his advice and expertise to global HR leaders to help improve Quality of Hire.