Are Your Clients Creating Their Own Talent Shortage?

(Editor’s Note: This is the next in a series of guest blog posts about contract staffing, courtesy of Top Echelon Contracting, the recruiter’s back-office solution.  Similar posts will appear in future issues of The Pinnacle Newsletter Blog.)

Debbie Fledderjohann

With unemployment remaining steady around nine percent, the perception is that companies simply aren’t hiring.  But there are, in fact, many companies that say they are interested in hiring, but can’t find workers with the right skills.

How can that be when, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are an average of 4.7 unemployed people for every vacant job?  In a previous blog post, we talked about how employers are asking recruiters for more candidates even after the recruiter presents a great prospect because, with the unemployment rate so high, they don’t just want “great,” they want the “perfect candidate.”  But some experts are saying that this quest for perfection stymies the hiring process way before the interview process.

Specifically, hiring managers are over-emphasizing skills, certifications, and experience in specific roles in their requirements for open positions, according to Lou Adler, CEO and founder of talent management consulting firm The Adler Group.

“So if you’re focused completely on specific skills and experience, you’ll end up with average people and exclude the high potentials, who have a broad mix of skills,” Adler said in the Human Resources Executive Online article, “A Shortage of Talent? Really?”  “A better approach would be to define the work before you define the person you’re looking for, and then look for people who have done comparable work in comparable industries.”

But the problem is that employers don’t want to take the time to train those types of people, Peter Cappelli said in his Wall Street Journal article titled, “Why Companies Aren’t Getting the Employees They Need.”  They want someone who can perform the job immediately without any training.  Cappelli said these employers are creating a “catch-22,” where in order to get a job, candidates must already be doing essentially the same job.

So what’s the solution?  Cappelli said that employers need to give up on finding the “perfect candidate” and instead find someone who could do the job with just a little bit of training.  He advocates extended probationary periods during which the company could pay a little less until the worker is up to speed.

This is similar to the advice we’ve provided in previous articles about employers’ “perfect candidate” mindset.  You might be able to get your clients to give great candidates a chance by allowing them to “try-before-they-buy” with contract-to-direct arrangements.  In this scenario, the worker you place with them is employed by a contracting back-office, such as Top Echelon Contracting, during the trial period.  During that time, the company saves money because they don’t pay for the employer share of taxes, employee benefits contributions, unemployment or Workers’ Compensation premiums, etc.

Better yet, if the candidate is not working out, your client won’t feel like they have to keep investing time to develop them, like they would if the worker was an employee.  They can end the contract assignment and try someone else.  By giving candidates who have potential a chance, your clients might find themselves with a talent surplus rather than a talent shortage!


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