To Address Talent Shortages, Get Smart About Tech

Businesses in myriad industries are struggling with skills gaps, spurring executives to seek new methods and technologies for acquiring talent. Unfortunately, the tactics recruiters and hiring managers use to plug talent holes don't always address the larger problem of the nationwide talent gap. While businesses can leverage freelancers and contract workers to make up for some weaknesses and scale up projects, at the end of the day, many companies simply require more full-time employees than they can get their hands on.

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The Trump administration's commitment to cracking down on immigration only compounds this problem, according to Talent Tech Labs' (TTL) "2017 State of Talent Acquisition Technology" report. Sixty-nine percent of businesses – and 80 percent of businesses that fill more than 2,500 positions per year – said they believe a shortage of work visas will directly affect their talent acquisition initiatives. Other challenges include a lack of budget for talent acquisition solutions (58 percent), uncertainty about healthcare legislation (39 percent), and poor hiring manager training (36 percent).

Skilled Worker Shortage Continues to Plague HR and Recruiting

"The skills shortages exist in areas where specified talent is in short supply," explains Brian Delle Donne, president of TTL. "The rapid adoption of the app economy and the desire for data to be mined and monetized has resulted in all companies – startups and mature firms alike – trying to build teams with talent [that is] in demand across the same spectrum."

According to Delle Donne, one of the major factors behind the skills shortage is "a collective fear of falling behind." Because so many organizations are aiming for the same talent at the same time – e.g., Python programmers, Hadoop experts, and data scientists are in particularly high demand across industries – there isn't enough to go around.

"It's essentially a supply and demand imbalance," Delle Donne says.

While no one organization can solve the nationwide talent shortage on its own, companies can take steps to mitigate the impact the shortage has on their operations.

"Strategies to abate [the shortage] include more proactive planning in targeting the skills you'll need to hire for so more time can be afforded to the sourcing process," Delle Donne says. "Companies can also start training their existing workers on the skills they need. Assuming it's a war for the talent, business can establish an employer brand and compensation structure that will be attractive to the skilled population you are seeking to hire."

As for the big-picture problem of the national workforce, it may be time for government intervention.

"I believe that the role of government, if there is one, would be to promote the retraining and continuing education of workers," says Delle Donne. "This can be done through programs targeting specific populations, such as veterans, or more generally with attractive lending programs for professional development."

Technology: The Future of Talent Acquisition

Having the proper technology in place is now critical for talent acquisition success, yet many organizations face financial barriers that limit the implementation of innovative solutions. Part of the reason why so many talent acquisition departments face these budgetary challenges is that they struggle to justify the ROI of new recruiting technologies.

"To address these monetary constraints, talent acquisition leaders need to elevate hiring as a strategic imperative contributing to a company's long-term success," Delle Donne says. "They also need to be able to articulate the cost of doing business 'as is,' including quantifying the opportunity costs of not making improvements."

Delle Donne says the providers of these tech solutions can also do their part by "assisting prospective buyers with strong ROI justifications for their solutions, specific to the prospect's use case."

But simply implementing today's new technologies isn't enough. To avoid falling behind in the war for talent later on down the line, companies must keep an eye on which technologies will remain relevant in the years to come.

Based on what TTL has observed, Delle Donne says he's paying particular attention to applicant tracking systems (ATS) and customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

"ATSs are now widely deployed and will be upgraded to next-generations versions," Delle Donne says. "CRM tools, which have about a 30 percent adoption rate at large enterprises, will accelerate their penetration."

Artificial intelligence is also on Delle Donne's mind: "To the extent that artificial intelligence makes the expected impact on these systems, I believe the time savings and operational efficiencies will make them the most useful and drive the rate of growth over the next several years."