By Kristen Harris
The 2011 Talent Shortage Survey1 results have been released, and news is mixed for job seekers. By being forced to reduce their workforce and find ways to “do more with less” during the recent recession, businesses have found that they can do great things if they have the right talent in place. What is interesting is that while companies are not planning to increase their staff back to the pre-recession levels, they are looking for the “right” people, and apparently having a difficult time finding them. So…the good news is that companies are hiring, the bad news is that it’s a very competitive job market and employers are looking for the right combination of specific skill sets and excellent soft skills or business experience.
A few more interesting findings from the survey:
• U.S. companies reported a dramatic increase in how difficult it is for them to find the people they are looking for—from 14% to 52%, a 38 percentage point increase.
• Why are employers having such a difficult time filling positions when there are clearly a lot of people looking for work? One in four of the employers surveyed stated environmental/market factors, they just can’t find anyone available in their area. Another 22% said applicants lack the technical competencies needed, and 15% of companies stated lack of business knowledge or formal qualifications as the main reason candidates did not qualify.
• Hoping to get trained by the company? Don’t count on it—three-quarters of employers globally cited candidates’ lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the reason they could not fill positions, but only one in five is concentrating on training and development to fill that gap.
Whether you are aggressively seeking a new position or just putting your feelers out there because you’ve heard that companies are starting to hire again, this information can provide a lot of insight into how to approach your search. Some tips to consider:
• Think about location. A lot of people don’t want to or can’t relocate, but if it’s an option for you, look outside your region. While your skill set may not be in demand in your particular area, perhaps it’s a fit with an employer in another city or region.
• Assess your technical competencies and compare them to the current standards for your field. Are your “hard” skills up-to-date with today’s standards? Is there anything you need to brush up on or new skills you need to learn to be competitive? The market is tough and employers want the perfect person, so make yourself as perfect as you can. Build up your skills through education, volunteer work or even taking a lower-level job than you really want to get particular on-the-job experience.
• Take an hard look at your “soft” skills. Having the right interpersonal and communication skills, values and mindset can be as important to a potential employer as your “hard” skills. Do some personality assessments, work with a career coach or have an honest discussion with a friend. Often a very skilled or talented person ultimately doesn’t get the job because of a poor fit in this area.
• Make sure employers can find you. Connect with recruiters, visit company career pages, stay active on LinkedIn and industry-specific social media sites, and make sure your any resumes you have posted online are current and well put-together.
Employers are seeking the right people to add to their team, so you need to do everything you can to be that right person for them.
1 Source: 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, study conducted by Manpower Group: http://manpowergroup.com/research/research.cfm