Across nearly every industry, today’s businesses are universally struggling to find talent. From manufacturing labor in the Midwest to IT professionals in Silicon Valley, the gap between qualified workers and open positions is widening, with no end in sight.
But while the talent shortage is real, where there certainly isn’t a shortage is in proposed solutions. Time and time again these three strategies are presented as the answer. But are they each a one-size-fits-all solution? The answer is no. Depending on a number of factors, they may or may not work for your company’s unique talent needs.
1. Hiring for aptitude
Companies traditionally conduct skills-based hiring. Job descriptions typically list a number of required competencies that they feel qualify someone for a particular role, and candidates are interviewed against those standards. On the other hand, hiring for aptitude is hiring for potential, culture fit and adaptability. By adopting this approach, companies are able to significantly expand their pool of available talent.
When it works: The success of an aptitude-based hiring approach is often dependent on a company having certain characteristics. Mainly, it prioritizes innovation, its employees are rewarded for pushing boundaries and its culture is rooted in career development and mentorship.
When it doesn’t work: Hiring for aptitude fails not only when the company culture isn’t a fit for it, but also when the role’s purpose is defined as supplemental to help the company achieve a specific goal. Is there already an established formula for success in that role? In those cases, the individual needs to have specific skills and/or certifications in order to hit the ground running.
2. Allowing flexible work arrangements
Thanks largely to millennials and their growing influence on changing workforce needs, it’s becoming more common for businesses to offer flexible work arrangements in order to compete for top talent. A recent survey found that 74 percent of workers said they would quit their jobs to work for an organization offering remote work options.
When it works: While collaboration between remote workers can be tough, success comes down to having well-defined processes. A study in the MIT Sloan Management Review validates that processes affect success far more than location. It takes a supportive leadership team to weave those remote workforce friendly processes into the company culture, so an out-of-office co-worker isn’t seen as a distraction or special situation.
When it doesn’t work: Don’t underestimate the power of teamwork — studies show collaboration can increase innovation by 15 percent, as well as improve communication and reduce time to market. Online collaboration and communication tools make remote work possible, and without them, the individual becomes less productive and influential to the team. Remote workers also tend to fail when there’s no formal policy for it or if there’s inconsistency across departments.
3. Using untapped visa talent
Using contract talent from other countries is hardly a new strategy but was often reserved for only the biggest companies due to the expensive and arduous process associated with the H1-B visa program. In reality, there are other types of visas, such as the E-3 for specialty labor from Australia, and new areas of the world that are emerging as talent hubs, such as Mexico for IT talent, which is accessible more easily and inexpensively under the TN visa program.
When it works: Foreign talent is a viable solution when you have hard-to-fill roles that require a specific set of skills. A local deficit in web or mobile application developers, CRM developers or DevOps talent is a great reason to expand your search to include foreign talent. Outside of exposure to top IT talent who can fill in your organization’s gaps, foreign visa talent can also be extremely valuable when you need a native speaker for a cultural advantage, such as a project involving a service or product that targets a specific demographic.
When it doesn’t work: Many organizations find it best to enlist a staffing supplier that specializes in these placements to manage the process, especially as internal teams can be under-resourced already. And, there are cases when visa talent isn’t able to fill a role, as many government contracts prohibit the use of visa workers, or clearances required for certain roles are only available to U.S. citizens.
All three of these strategies can be a great way to find new talent during today’s shortage. But it’s important to evaluate things like company culture, leadership style and existing internal processes before diving in, as the cost of a bad hire is amplified when a company’s potential talent pool is smaller than normal.