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Strategies For Closing Skill Gaps in Hiring

Finding and keeping talent to fill open positions has reached a crisis point and added to critical skills gaps across the U.S. The gaps are causing burnout, stifling innovation, lowering productivity, hindering overall performance, and increasing recruiting costs. With the accelerating development of technologies, it seems certain that skills gaps will continue to widen and threaten the future success of companies.

Organizations mistakenly believe they have no choice but to leave many positions open indefinitely. That’s the path many are taking. However, there is a sustainable solution to resolving skills gaps. It involves recruiting inside your organization.

Your current employees are already a good culture fit in your organization, making them less costly to train. They are likely to value professional and personal development opportunities and stay with you longer when they are offered them. Investing in your current employees can transform your recruitment process and restore critical workplace resilience. Companies that bridge the skills gaps will be the ones that thrive.

What’s causing the gaps?

There are various factors contributing to the disparity between employers’ needs and expectations and the actual level of candidate skills today. In addition to the breathtaking speed of technology advancements which require new skills, some major factors causing gaps in skills are: a lack of education and tech training; retiring baby boomers taking their strategic thinking and skills with them; a permanent move to flexible working arrangements and other cultural changes; plus the need to adapt to constant, pervasive change.

The foundation for managing continual change is workforce resiliency. Resiliency means you have the flexibility to adapt quickly and strategically to whatever circumstances arise. Organizations cannot become resilient by simply training people in technical skills. Necessary as they are, technical skills have a shelf life.

Resiliency also requires training in cognitive skills like problem solving and critical thinking, and in soft skills like teamwork and communication. These are enduring personal and professional skills critical to business resilience and success. Thinking broadly and with an open mind helps you see skills gaps in whatever form they appear and better prepare to navigate whatever lies ahead.

You’ve invested a great deal in recruiting your people. The way to overcome skills gaps is to invest in them a little more.

A process of assessing, leveraging, and coaching

According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), six in ten workers will require training before 2027.  In their recent report, WEF states, “Businesses must transform their human capital into a competitive advantage by investing in durable cross-functional skill development that will withstand future market demands and capitalize on new opportunities.”

TalenTrust is increasingly seeing companies move toward flexibility in their hiring. This includes identifying and separating skills that are required to do the job from skills that can be taught or coached. For example, removing a boilerplate requirement to have a degree when none is relevant to succeeding in that particular role. An effective hiring process incorporates both required and coachable skills for each position.

In addition to greater workplace resiliency, the actual process of filling skills gaps improves your recruiting results. Equally important, it increases retention by giving current employees a shot at new opportunities and demonstrating that you believe in them.

Here are steps you can take to bridge and close your skills gaps:

  • Begin by defining your company’s goals and understanding what skills you’ll need to secure your future stability and growth.
  • Identify the skills that are essential and prerequisite in specific roles versus skills that can be taught or trained. Then assess which skills your employees already possess, and which ones are missing.
  • Ensure you have a learning culture where gaining and sharing knowledge are prioritized, valued, and rewarded.
  • Leverage technology as well as the strengths and skills of current employees to bridge gaps and optimize performance.
  • Shift from a skill-set only interview process to one that also assesses desirable characteristics, like coachability. (TalenTrust’s Precision Interviewing guides you in creating custom, position-specific interviews to understand people’s motivators, goals, and expectations. Whether interviewing current employees for a new role or candidates from outside, precision interviewing will help you hire more effectively.)
  • Cross-skill, up-skill, re-skill, and coach employees in their current roles and offer opportunities for horizontal moves as well as vertical advancement to fill your skills gaps.
  • Make organization-led training and development a permanent part of your recruitment and retention strategies.

We’ve accepted that the pace of change will only accelerate, and success will require increasing resilience. At the street level, this means managing continuous and inevitable skills gaps. The solution is investing in our people by leveraging the skills they have and identifying the ones that need to be taught. This will make our companies more prepared to navigate the uncharted waters that are surely ahead.

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