The growing challenge of finding top talent has impacted a diverse range of occupations, from factory-floor workers to information architects.
Today’s most innovative staffing firms can help their clients mitigate the talent shortage by providing a variety of staffing solutions. These may include training for incumbent workers to selective outsourcing of the most vexing components of the recruitment process.
"It's hard to find people with the right mix of experience along with the skills, says Matt Rivera, director of customer solutions at staffing firm Yoh in Philadelphia.
Balancing a Long List of Job Requirements
Despite the economic tumult, there’s been a prerequisite to addressing clients’ needs to acquire qualified talent: convincing clients that in a period of persistently high unemployment, the right workers can still be difficult to source and recruit.
This has often manifested in employers’ firm insistence on finding candidates who meet long lists of must-have job requirements; the resulting hiring process can lead to a less-than-total appreciation of the skills gap.
“Clients are continuing to hire at a strong pace, but they're very particular about the skills they're looking for," says John Reed, executive director of staffing firm Robert Half Technology in Menlo Park, Calif.
Educating Clients About This Confounding Labor Market
Before you provide clients with staffing solutions that address their talent gap, it’s imperative to educate them on the status of their labor-market niche.
Some clients will listen when staffing firms present data to prove their point. "When you drill down into information technology, in the realm of professionals with computer science degrees, unemployment is just 3 to 4 percent," says Reed.
Other clients may only learn through the disappointing experience of losing a top candidate to indecision or unrealistic expectations. "They start to understand what the market conditions are, and when they see that qualified candidates are snapped up so quickly, they realize they have to do something differently.”
There is some good news for staffing companies and job recruiters. As the economic recovery takes tentative steps and recruitment of in-demand talent continues to be a challenge, "the conversations with clients are becoming easier," says Reed.
Staffing Solutions that Fill the Gap From Within
Offering solutions that clearly illustrate the need is imperative. "You need to be in education mode, to give clients a realistic picture of what the market is," says Reed. "We educate the client on investing in the teams they already have with a training and development program."
Some hiring managers underestimate the value of incumbent employees’ knowledge about an employer’s organizational culture. Demonstrating this value may enable staffing firms to sell a training program that will bring proven workers up to speed with the next technology or skill set.
"We sometimes provide training to our consultants," says Mike McBrierty, COO of staffing firm Eliassen Group in Wakefield, Mass. "Good soft skills can outweigh a minor gap in technology. Whether training can work depends on the deadline that the client is under."
Staffing Firms Can Boost Recruitment Networking
Smaller employers can use the help of staffing solutions to address a talent shortage and boost the effectiveness of their recruitment networking campaigns, especially in their social media plan. Staffing firms can help where employers’ nascent social media recruitment efforts don’t have the reach to identify potential candidates.
"Staffing firms are heavily investing in networking of all sorts," says Rivera. "Because they have multiple openings with multiple clients, they can do more. Employers are making attempts with social networking, but it takes a sustained effort."
Tactical Outsourcing Can Narrow the Gap
Finally, staffing firms can persuade clients to consider -- or reconsider -- recruitment process outsourcing as a selective solution to their toughest recruitment challenges.
"We do see more companies looking at RPO for direct hires," says Rivera. "RPO doesn't have to be a behemoth program, it can be for a project or used for a specific part of the recruitment process if you don't have the resources." After earlier RPO failures, many organizations are taking another look at more targeted implementations of RPO, he added.