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Talent Shortages: What Recruiters Need to Know

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It’s no secret that a current talent shortage is causing problems for businesses and recruiters worldwide. Consultants are struggling to find qualified candidates for open positions. Companies are losing money every day that their key roles remain unfilled.

Recruiters might well ask, “What do I do during a talent shortage?” In this article, we’ll go over some of the factors affecting the industry, and offer some plans to help stay productive during this time. While a talent shortage is temporary, we hope these tips will help you no matter what’s going on in the markets.


What is a talent shortage?

A talent shortage is when recruiters and companies find fewer qualified candidates than they need to fill open positions. It can result from a variety of factors:

  • An aging workforce
  • Higher competition for top talent
  • Shifts in attitudes about work

Whatever the cause, it’s a major conundrum. When there just aren’t enough candidates with the right skills to fill a company’s hiring needs, the organization won’t grow. This means revenue and productivity will be down as businesses struggle to pick up the pace again.

From the recruiter’s perspective, finding the right talent in a moment like this isn’t any easier. But getting ahead with strategic sourcing can put you in the right place to win big, even when times are tough.


Is there a shortage of talent now?

Yes, many experts are pointing to a current global shortage of skilled talent.

According to a 2022 ManpowerGroup survey, three-fourths of employers report trouble finding the talent they need - putting the current talent shortage at a 16-year high. This translates to problems like longer hiring timelines and an inability to meet deadlines on important projects.

A related term to “talent shortage,” “skills gap,” names the so-called gap between what skills companies need from their workforce, and the skills that are actually there. In a recent McKinsey & Company survey, 87% of businesses worldwide are already struggling with a skills gap or expect it soon.

Like a talent shortage, a skills gap is caused by a number of factors:

  • Increased automation
  • Use of AI
  • More digitization

When there aren’t enough skilled candidates to close this gap, recruiters can expect struggles with hiring to continue.


How does a talent shortage impact recruiters?

It goes without saying that recruiters will feel the crunch during a talent shortage. The current talent shortage is already having an impact on how consultants work, with more turbulence to come.

For recruitment agencies, placement rates will be lower as it becomes more difficult to source the right talent. Clients will naturally start to question the relationship. If roles remain open for weeks or months at a time, it will create a burden for recruiters to explain and persuade their clients not to give up on finding the right hire.

As a talent shortage stretches on, recruiters will have to tackle the problem in two ways. One, convincing hiring managers and the C-suite that there’s still talent out there. And two, getting creative with talent sourcing and retention.


Recruitment tips to help manage a talent shortage

With some of these tips in mind, you can take the reins back and find new ways to place the right talent.

Expand your sourcing strategies

Try to look for candidates in unexpected places. For industry-specific talent, you could try niche sites like GitHub (IT). Consider uncommon-for-recruitment social media platforms like Instagram, using paid ads to get candidates’ attention, or checking public Slack communities for new talent.

Prioritize skills over experience

“Years of experience” is not always a firm requirement when finding the right candidate. Consult with your client and see if they can be a little flexible on a candidate’s past job titles or years in an industry. If you can demonstrate skills - even transferable ones - it helps place those candidates who might not be perfect on paper but can certainly grow.

Keep your brand strong

When budgets get tight, engagement comes to the rescue. To attract more passive talent and keep active talent interested, make it a priority to promote your personal brand as a recruiter and the agency’s brand.

Check that compensation packages are competitive

Candidates will have more leverage, so offering what they’re interested in makes your open roles stand out. When advertising or promoting a role, check with the client about any extra benefits that might stand out, from healthcare to retirement plans.

Build relationships with educational institutions

Consider working with recent graduates. This group, while harder to reach on platforms like LinkedIn, can be great candidates with a bit of training. Working with universities, apprenticeship programs, and internships can tap in to more hard-to-find talent.

Use automation to streamline recruitment processes

Automation can be a huge help to recruiters, reducing admin and freeing up time for building relationships. It also helps lower the risk of outdated or incorrect candidate data, which is key when reaching out to the right person at the right time.

Don’t obsess over the perfect fit

When there are no perfect candidates out there, imperfect ones start to look more attractive. A talent shortage is a great time to sell the virtue of the “less-than-ideal” candidate - who, with time and training, might turn out to be a solid one.


Final thoughts

A talent shortage offers plenty of challenges for recruiters. From sourcing those increasingly-scarce candidates to managing client relationships, it can be a stressful time.

But there’s always a new way of looking at the same problems. Recruitment is competitive, and never more so when there’s a talent shortage. Market conditions are always changing, so it helps recruiters to stay creative with talent sourcing and engagement no matter what.