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6 Tips to Combat the Post-Pandemic Talent Shortage

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Despite finding itself in the throes of substantial disruption throughout the pandemic, the job market is bouncing back in earnest with a clear uptick in the amount of new vacant roles in 2021. Subsequently, companies are starting to fall back into a similar situation they found themselves in before the pandemic, where the number of jobs outnumbered the skilled workers available.

A 27 percent increase in new jobs from last year against a backdrop of an aging, shrinking labor market means that HR teams are now bracing themselves for the inevitable, impending talent shortage. With this in mind, here are some top tips to creatively respond to this challenge by making the most of the talent that already exists within your organization as well as honing your recruiting efforts.

Tip #1 – Nurture a Talent Community

The idea that talent acquisition is more than just a series of sporadic interactions that constantly reset at the dawn of a new vacancy is now widely accepted, as talent pools, networks and communities are taking center stage. From a candidate’s first touchpoint with you, your focus should be as much about retaining interest as generating it in the first place. Nurturing relationships with new candidates or even silver medalists (strong candidates that just missed out on previous roles) will allow you to draw upon a community of engaged prospects every time you have a new role to fill.

Having detailed candidate profiles listed on a comprehensive recruiting CRM can help you segment the talent community and provide them with insightful content tailored to their specific interests and experience (e.g., interview tips or example career paths within your organization) and, most importantly, contact them for future opportunities. A win-win from any perspective.

Your platform can make or break your ability to build extensive talent pools and nurture relationships in a way that aligns with your company culture. Combine the power of configurable workflows and engagement tools that can be molded to create any kind of experience you want your candidates to have. This, alongside powerful automation that enables you to deliver a high-touch candidate experience at scale without burdening recruiters, makes Avature a particularly effective platform when it comes to nurturing talent communities.

Tip #2 – Harness Technology To Adapt to the Future of Work

Due to the accelerating effects of the pandemic, the Future of Work is a concept that has come to fruition much quicker than many would have imagined. All of the predictions of the shift to remote working, the move from career ladders to career lattices and an increasing number of candidates with fragmented experience made up from multiple gigs and side-hustles are all now a reality.

With these changes in mind, the way you evaluate candidates has shifted dramatically with the need to assess transferable skills and cultural fit from an increasingly eclectic selection of applicants. Being able to decipher potential from candidates’ past experience for brand new roles, requiring skills that might not have existed a year ago, throws a spanner in the works for traditional TA processes.

This is where AI technology can help by uncovering gems at scale and more consistently than humans would ever be capable of. Transparent AI-powered tools can automatically assess and match candidates against extensive skills ontologies. With advanced algorithms, skills taxonomies and semantic capabilities, you can start harnessing the technology to build a better picture of what the most sought-after skills are for your organization. These tools develop and sharpen themselves over time, creating clusters of useful data that will start to bring applicants to your attention which might not have been obvious initially to the naked eye.

An increasingly remote workforce also makes integrating video interview capabilities into your platform a must. This ensures a safe process in line with local regulations and enables companies to consider a much more global pool of talent.

Given candidates’ changing expectations and demands, using technology to showcase your brand and deliver an amazing first impression is essential. The role of technology cannot be underestimated in the search for new talent and needs to be flexible enough to keep up with your strategy and the market’s ever-changing demands.

Tip #3 – Develop Your Own Candidates

For many, the right talent is not just elusive, but boarding on the non-existent as certain roles and sectors are finding themselves with a severe lack of skilled candidates. This can often be the case for more traditional industries such as manufacturing or engineering, where the disparity between a large number of roles and the low numbers of skilled applicants has never been greater.

Despite increasing investment in automation, the supply of talent in manufacturing is still not sufficient and is projected to have wider consequences for the US economic output. A continued shortage could translate to a potential loss of $454 billion in economic output by 2028, a massive 17 percent of the forecasted manufacturing GDP in the US.

A possible solution to this is to invest in attracting and training the candidates yourself. Given the dearth of suitable candidates, a large furniture manufacturer almost gave up looking for new people for manufacturing positions. So they decided to set up the Advanced Manufacturing Institute to attract and develop the candidates with the potential to thrive in these roles. This revived their recruitment efforts and started filling talent gaps with an influx of new workers that were suitably trained to thrive at their organization.

Supporting candidates in developing your most sought-after skills is not a brand new idea but one that can be prioritized when the search for candidates is critical. It doesn’t need to be the creation of an institute, but something as simple as advising job-seekers as to what skills are required for a particular role and pointing them in the right direction of training courses to gain those skills can go a long way.

Tip #4 – Focus on Building Career Pathways

From improving workforce engagement to driving career development, talent mobility represents the biggest competitive advantage for organizations looking to overcome the post-pandemic talent shortage.

While traditional thinking in the realm of strategic HR can be described as an “if you build it, they will come” mentality, the HR challenges we face today demand a new approach. Talent mobility is based on the idea that upskilling is no longer a luxury reserved for superstar talent but an essential pillar for long-term business success. A vital component of this recent shift is the rise of the internal talent marketplace.

Much more than a traditional career site, the internal talent marketplace is designed to offer employees a personalized and seamless experience engineered to stimulate upskilling and drive career growth. With a focus on opportunity visibility and talent redeployment, this integrated platform gives employees greater control over their development, empowering them to clearly define a career pathway that is aligned with both individual and organizational goals.

For example, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where an employee from Accounting who is a whizz with numbers is interested in moving to Technical Support or that a copywriter from Marketing wants to try their hand at technical writing. With a robust internal talent marketplace and a team of dedicated internal headhunters, organizations can quickly shift these employees in a way that maximizes value, cuts costs and drives workforce satisfaction.

Tip # 5 – Move the Gig Economy In-House

A natural extension of agile career pathing, organizations can further improve their talent redeployment efforts by incorporating more project-based positions and short-term opportunities into their internal talent marketplaces. Although most organizations have typically reserved project-based work for contingent workers, providing full-time employees with these types of opportunities is not only a great strategy for cutting sourcing costs while upskilling internal talent, but one that we here at Avature support with our internal mobility solution.

As Josh Bersin pointed out in the podcast we linked above, although most large enterprise organizations utilize contingent workers, many organizations lack visibility concerning this workforce segment. And while the long-term goal should be to develop visibility while providing contingent workers with an employee-like experience, many organizations have come to realize that the economic costs of contingent sourcing and development in the current environment no longer make business sense.

As such, a short-term solution (and one with the potential for long-term benefits) is to sidestep the current talent shortage by offering employees the opportunity to participate in short-term projects typically reserved for contingent workers. Understanding that organizations are continuing to move further away from traditional frameworks of linear employee growth, short-term projects can position businesses to effectively cover talent gaps in the here and now while providing employees with new and exciting upskilling opportunities.

Note that, as we covered in detail in a prior blog post, if an organization cannot find the specialized knowledge it needs in-house, leaders can position their company for contingent sourcing success by implementing a direct sourcing strategy via a contingent talent network. This three-part model (i.e., internal talent marketplace, project-based assignments and direct contingent sourcing) will provide businesses with an actionable strategy to nurture both internal and external talent pools while maximizing their value.

Tip #6 – Unify the Employee Experience

A final strategy that organizations can implement to help overcome the post-pandemic talent shortage (with less turnover and greater long-term ROI) is to focus on improving the employee experience.

It’s important to recall that effective talent management doesn’t happen in isolation. Today, in our world of talent shortages and shifting employee preferences, the foundation of a rewarding employee experience – from goal setting to skills development to mobility – is rooted in an integrated talent management ecosystem. While benefit programs have long been a staple of modern talent management, the truth is most organizations still lack the people data and intuitive tools necessary to provide their workforce with a compelling talent management experience.

Total talent management means going beyond a set of HR processes and truly understanding the ROI potential of your workforce (i.e., your most valuable assets). It also means developing a set of agile best practices and implementing a platform that can connect your performance management, internal mobility, succession planning and engagement efforts and deliver you the necessary insight to inform your talent decisions, hone your focus and unify the employee experience.

To Conclude…

While the current talent shortage shows no sign of dissipating anytime soon, organizations can find success in filling open positions with a dedicated focus on reskilling/redeployment initiatives and the implementation of agile technology solutions. While the tips above won’t prevent the labor market from shrinking, they can help position you and your organization for talent success in our post-pandemic world.

 

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