Skills shortages are often cited as the key concern for many business leaders and, not surprisingly, companies go to great lengths to enhance their sourcing expertise, improve their employer brand, relentlessly traverse social media to source candidates, and put sophisticated MSP and RPO programs in place to improve their chances of finding that elusive perfect fit.
This is all well and good, but the perfect candidate is seldom found even in job roles where supply is abundant. And candidates won’t necessarily regard you as the perfect employer despite your best efforts. Any hiring engagement, whether it be temporary or permanent, is a compromise by both parties and sensible employers will recognize the need to be flexible in their hiring requirements. So, what does that flexibility look like?
Every job role can be filled. Somewhere in the world that so-called “purple squirrel” is waiting for your call. However, it may take you longer to find them than you want. They may not be located in the exact place you want. They may cost you more than you want to spend. And they may not be available on the employment terms you want.
The right timing. HR and procurement professionals can be proactive in setting hiring manager expectations and planning accordingly. Some positions can be filled immediately and some might take many months. While it’s not always possible to be prepared when a vacancy pops up, you can easily work out in advance where the pain points are going to be.
Each year, we ask in our Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey what specific skills buyers are having the greatest challenge in recruiting. In 2016, IT was the most problematic occupational segment, with data science and information security commonly cited as skills difficult to recruit. But it’s not just highly skilled roles that are difficult to fill. Light industrial/manual labor was commonly cited among firms that regarded industrial as their primary segment. CWS Council members can go here for more detailed insight.
A hiring program that takes a vanilla approach across all job categories will not satisfy your hiring managers. Knowing that some vacancies will require more effort than others enables you to fine tune your program to ensure you have the right policies and suppliers in place to support your efforts.
The right place. Sometimes, you’ll need to compromise on location. While it may be preferable to have the candidate working on-site, is it essential in all cases? If you can persuade the hiring manager to accept candidates who work remotely, even overseas, then you’ll drastically improve your chances of finding the right person. Talent shortages are strictly geographical in nature, so if you allow geography to be a barrier between you and the right candidate, you will struggle — the labor pool in Kansas is 1.5 million while the global labor pool is estimated at approximately 3 billion workers. Given advances in technology, it’s never been easier for work to be conducted from a distance and new procurement technologies are also making it easier to tap into that global labor force. If you’re not doing so already, think about categorizing all your vacancies as either “must be on-site,” “prefer to be on-site” and “can work remotely.”
The right price. In every survey SIA has conducted over the years, employers claim to prioritize the quality of hire over price. However, what we’re told in surveys isn’t necessarily what happens in the real world, especially given real-world cost pressures that all businesses face. Of course, most employers will recognize that they’ll get the best result if they pay the right price rather than the cheapest price — and like any other procurement category, labor is subject to the law of demand and supply equilibrium. In many instances, the right price is best determined simply by how desperate you are to fill the role.
Many workforce solutions suppliers are investing in data solutions to help their customers better determine what the right price should be. Not only is data becoming more readily available as part of the big data wave, but developments in artificial intelligence promise to make the analysis of such data more valuable and more insightful. Where “best guess” has been used in the past, you now have the tools available to make a more informed decision as to whether you need to pay more or less to get the right person on board.
If pricing flexibility is the watchword in terms of sourcing labor, it equally applies to demands to contingent workforce suppliers for across-the-board rate cuts that are, effectively, a sledgehammer where a scalpel would be much more effective.
The right labor category. You can take advantage of a variety of skilled workers to get your projects completed; permanent workers, temporaries, freelancers, SOW contractors, for instance. If you can persuade your hiring managers to focus more on the skills requirement and be less prescriptive about the form of employment then, once again, you are improving your chances of getting the right person to complete the task.
While the hiring manager may prefer to hire a full-time employee, and, regardless of the attractiveness of your employer brand, those specialists with the most in-demand and rare skills often prefer to work in a freelance capacity so may be available to you only on those terms.
Working in close cooperation with your suppliers can also help you determine what makes most sense here and how flexible you might need to be. It’s one of the reasons why many companies are now thinking of taking a total talent acquisition approach to meet their hiring requirements.
Getting your hiring managers to be more realistic about prospects and putting in place solutions to deal with your workforce demands in a flexible manner will make it much easier to satisfy your stakeholders. If you’re not making the effort to educate your stakeholders in this respect, then whatever program you put in place is unlikely to meet expectations.