Music FlowerThe Manpower 2015 talent shortage survey showed us that 38 percent of managers can’t find the talent they need, which is the highest percentage since 2007. Salespeople, engineers, technicians, skilled-trade workers, and IT professionals are proving to be the most difficult employees to find.

However, employers have known — or should have known — about these talent shortages for some time now. At this stage, no one should be surprised by any lack of skilled candidates. Talent shortages have been the “new normal” for nigh on a decade. As a result, many employers have begun to adopt more creative, targeted hiring strategies to find the right talent in the necessary volumes.

This new approach to hiring has come at a price: It has created an aggressive, frantic hiring climate, which has most likely contributed to the “bad hire” epidemic. According to CareerBuilder, rushed hiring is the main cause of bad hires.

Frantic hiring often emphasizes making external hires now over developing internal staff members into the right talent over time. This leads to staff disengagement and a net reduction in performance, as studies show that externally hired workers are more expensive and perform more poorly than their internal counterparts.

Recruiting harder and more aggressively in the external market is not a sustainable way to deal with talent shortages. It can lead to an unstable workforce of short tenures and bad hires.

External recruitment will always play a key role in replenishing resources, a better way to address talent shortages must involve a proactive model of finding and developing existing talent within organizations. Below are some thoughts on how to achieve just that:

Identify Critical Skills and Incentivize Learning

You’ll need to start by identifying those critical, hard-to-find skills your business so desperately needs. Then, you’ll have to incentivize workers to develop those skills. Doing this will create a renewable stream of mission-critical skills in your business, reducing your dependency on the external talent market.

There are a couple of ways you can incentivize employees to develop their skill sets in critical areas:

1. Skill-Specific Training Budgets

Offer paid training time for staff, if and only if those staff members use their training time to develop hard-to-find skills that fill shortages in your business.

2. Skill-Specific Bonuses and Raises

You can further incentivize people to develop specific skills by offering bonuses for workers when who complete projects in particular skill areas. You could also offer raises to staff members who demonstrate competencies in a needed areas.

Develop a Framework to Support Internal Hiring

FlowerAs mentioned above, internal hires tend to outperform external hires, so it’s a good idea to build a development-focused environment that supports internal hiring. In part, this means creating a hiring process that prefers internal applicants — even if they are a little less qualified than external applicants — and gives them the support they need to fully grow into a role.

Encourage Staff Members to Make Career Changes

Staff members from other departments can form an additional stream of internal talent. For example, you may find that you have several extroverted, commercially focused engineers who’d appreciate the challenge of moving into client-facing roles.

When advertising internal roles, make it clear you are open to receiving applications from individuals from other departments at the organization. Encouraging employees to make slight career changes within the organization could help you find just the talent you need.

Be Flexible When It Comes to Promotions and Demotions

Give internal hires a safety net, so that they can move back into their old roles if they fail. Let them know that failure is okay, and that they can return to their former positions and try again in the future if they wish.

This permissive approach to promotion and demotion will motivate staff members to move around the organization more freely, because it will remove the risk of being fired for poor performance, which holds so many employees back from applying for internal jobs.


By putting these measures in place, you can create a culture in your business that aims to constantly develop employees into exactly the talent you need. This will reduce your dependency on an already stressed talent market, giving you a more sustainable, “grow your own talent” strategy.

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