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A Widespread Talent Shortage Exists — 10 Strategies for Attracting Top Talent


A Widespread Talent Shortage Exists — 10 Strategies for Attracting Top Talent

“Turnabout is fair play.”

It’s been an employers’ market since the pre-Great Recession downturn. It’s now clear there’s been a reversal. Currently a widespread talent shortage exists, varying by industry, company, skills, education type/level, and experience needs.

In today’s hypercompetitive environment, the combination of the right talent and effective application of advanced technologies are primary drivers of competitive advantage.

Talent needs are very diverse. A few examples:

  • Manufacturing – increasingly high-tech positions require a strong work ethic and “middle skills”
  • Early adopters – advanced degrees and/or significant experience; agile and ready to contribute to digital transformation
  • Established companies with diverse workforces – people skills and extensive institutional knowledge to mentor, share knowledge and develop future leaders

Leaders who grasp the importance of talent to their business’ ability to maximize investments and achieve objectives are very actively developing strategies to enhance the attractiveness of their organization to top talent.

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

CEOs are acutely aware of the dichotomy of risks presented by rapidly changing skill requirements along with the significant decrease in working-age population growth.

The Conference Board’s 2016 Global CEO Survey (1) found executives placed “organizational capability” as their top priority for 2016.

Using insight from The Conference Board’s survey results, Chief Executive magazine (2) published 10 strategies for CEOs to increase their odds of hiring and retaining top talent.

  1. Harness analytics – Assess characteristics of existing top talent. Find candidates with similar attributes.
  2. Ban bureaucratic hiring practices – Don’t risk candidates believing this process represents company culture.
  3. Immediately extend an offer to the right candidate – They have many options; don’t risk losing them.
  4. Consider corporate culture – A poor culture fit overrides positive attributes.
  5. Prioritize passion for projects – Involve talent in projects that interest them and benefit the organization.
  6. Ignite the passion – Provide opportunities to deliver high-value projects they find meaningful.
  7. Balance freedom with accountability – Flexibility, accountability and feedback are valued.
  8. Actively discuss career development – Provide specific career path examples.
  9. Surround top talent with other top talent – Surround great people with other great people.
  10. Find the culprit – Continually losing top talent likely means there’s a manager responsible. Specific managers account for 80% of employee turnover.


Benefits of Being ‘First Movers’

Substantial rewards await those extremely innovative and agile companies capable of harnessing the extraordinary speed of technology advancements to take the lead within their industries.

First movers within each industry clearly establish their position with distinctive and powerful cloud-based platforms – they then make available to others for a price. Examples include: Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft (software and internet), and GE and Siemens (industrial manufacturing). (3)


Agility is a Key Factor

Today’s business environment requires a higher level of agility. Beyond being a “fast learner”, it’s important for high-performers to be able to – and have the confidence to – quickly recognize new opportunities, identify optimal collaboration partners, change gears when “Plan A” isn’t viable.

“You can’t have an innovative agenda, an agenda to collaborate, co-create or any of that, without having the right kind of talent…The skills gap is real. It’s in the tens of millions and, depending on your industry, you have to think more creatively about finding that talent and developing it with a learning-based culture.” -Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, VP/GM, Business Enablement and Strategy, Cisco (4)

Looking Forward

The talent shortage isn’t likely short-term. You will need to be in sync with your leadership team in how you 1) treat existing top talent, 2) pursue and onboard top talent, 3) remove counterproductive employees, 4) best utilize valued older employees to mentor, coach, and share institutional knowledge, and 5) stay true to your core values and culture.

Recalibrating Actions:

  1. Ensure your entire leadership team is active in defining talents needs, the recruitment process, communicating company culture and onboarding new employees. Everyone needs to be able to easily communicate positive differentiators, opportunities the company offers, describe company culture (providing examples), and modify their communications as needed based on the candidate and role to be filled.
  2. Re-assess internal high-performers. Are there current employees who, with additional education, training or development could meet identified needs? Assess their interests. Investing in their future may be far less risky than a new hire.
  3. Make sure whomever heads Human Resources is able to be the strategic leader you need to drive the process on an ongoing basis, represents your company well, and pulls in the right members of your leadership team as needed. If not, hiring someone to fill that role is now a top priority.
  4. Agility! Take a look at all areas of the company, key processes, communications, practices, etc. to find ways to more deeply imbed agility into the “DNA.”
  1. Global Survey Finds CEOs Working to Bolster Capability in 2016’s Sea of Uncertainty, The Conference Board, January 14, 2016
  2. Ross, Julie Ritzer, What CEOs Need to Know About Finding and Keeping Top Talent, Chief Executive, May 7, 2016
  3. Geissbauer, Reinhard, Vedso, Jesper, and Schrauf, Stefan, A Strategist’s Guide to Industry 4.0, strategy&/PwC, May 9, 2016
  4. Prince, C.J., How Agile Are You When it Comes to Talent?, Chief Executive, January 8, 2016
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