The Skills Gap Is Exaggerated By Poor Recruitment Strategies
A recent ONS report on shortages in the labour market indicated that one in three businesses with 10+ employees have difficulties in filling vacancies.
The most common reasons were a low number of applications and a lack of qualified applicants. Of course, this is a major problem, as it means that businesses are unable to meet the demands of customers – which has a knock-on effect on the economy and national productivity. Over the past two years the term ‘economic crisis’ has been used in countless media outlets – many of them referring to skills shortages.
I am not doubting for a minute that businesses are struggling to fill roles – I have seen it first-hand myself.
But I genuinely believe that, for the most part, the problem does not come from a skills gap.
Yes, unemployment rates are low, meaning there is a smaller pool of ‘readily available’ people to fill roles, but let’s not forget that most candidates – particularly from shopfloor to director level – come from previous employment and are not usually unemployed.
And sitting back and waiting for candidates to come to you is not necessarily the best approach – after all, the best candidates may not even be actively looking for a new role.
I believe that the problem usually derives from one of two issues – either an internal recruitment problem or a factor that’s out of your control, such as location.
So, when clients come to me and tell me there’s a skills gap, I don’t nod and agree. It’s my job to challenge that way of thinking.
What’s The Actual Problem?
I get to the crux of the business to figure out exactly what the problem is:
· Is your pay rate lower than a competitor across the street?
· Are you thinking in a linear way when it comes to salaries?
· Do you have restrictive ‘patch’ thinking?
· Are you demanding staff work from the office when they can be – and want to be – remote?
· Do you have poor internal recruitment processes?
· Are you thinking in the here and now rather than the future?
What’s The Solution To The Skill Gap?
Any headhunter worth their salt will conduct a thorough analysis of your business, using tips and tools that aren’t typically used by recruiters.
This could be personality profiling, CEO 360s, staff interviews and market mapping of your competitors – whether it’s one or 100 companies.
It’s my job to get to know where you want to be in one year, two years, even five years, and we help you get there. We’ll spot your gaps, and we’ll tell you where you’re going wrong.
Here Are Some Real-World Examples:
· One of our clients went through 4 financial directors in 3 years – they couldn’t seem to keep hold of them. As a result, they kept upping the job salary. After analysis, we realised the problem was that the managing director had an FD background and didn’t give the FD much autonomy. The solution we proposed was to find a more junior FD, on a lower salary, meaning they could learn from the MD. It also saved the client approximately £20,000 per year.
· Another scenario was with a manufacturer who knew that they were losing their staff to a builder across the road. The internal narrative was ‘they always come back, though’. We carried out an investigation and found that just one person had returned, and the competitor paid £1 more per hour. Our solution was to up their hourly rate by £2 per hour, which attracted higher quality of staff, and meant they didn’t need as many shop floor workers, saving them thousands per year.
· A third example is a client who struggled to find a sales director. We looked at the salary and realised that they weren’t offering enough money, but an increase would mean the sales director would be paid more than the MD. We challenged this way of thinking. Sales directors often can ask for more than the MD, as they are the ones bringing the ‘food to the table’
· The final example is a client who wanted to recruit regional, senior staff to cover ‘patches’ of the UK. They didn’t have the experience or skillset internally, and they had near-on zero candidates for the roles. We changed the geographical remit of the role, offered flexibility & hybrid working patterns (long before the pandemic) and we filled 3 roles quickly.
The bottom line is that you should be recruiting for tomorrow, not today. We look for people who are not actively looking for roles, and who’ve already done what you’re trying to achieve.
This type of thinking is what will help you attract candidates who are not just motivated by extra cash, but by their next career challenge. After all, you want people who want to help drive your business forward.
We therefore empower you to decide by giving you three candidate options:
· The ‘Golden Goose’ – someone who has all the experience you need, but demands a higher salary than you’re proposing
· Someone in the middle – a candidate with good experience and who also hits the salary band you’re offering
· A ‘junior’ – someone you can take a chance on. It’s someone who has the skillset and traits required to progress, without the full experience you may be looking for
What Are Some Of The Common Mistakes We See In Recruiting?
· Taking someone on because you like them personally
· ‘Scrimping’ on the salary offer
· Not having the tough conversations internally, to face the problems you’re experiencing
· Being narrow-minded in terms of remote working or location.
Of course, the jobs market is competitive, but I don’t believe we can declare a skills shortage just because the right candidate hasn’t fallen into your lap.
It’s important to attract the right people and if you’re struggling to recruit, consider help from a professional.
You don’t need to choose Red Diamond, but we are genuinely so passionate about this topic that, we’re here for a coffee and to give you an honest, insightful opinion, whether you use our services or not.