HR Headliner: May 2019
The Right Stuff
Identifying and Closing the Skills Gap in your Workforce
Hiring and retaining talented employees is becoming a significant challenge for today’s HR professionals. A recent study published by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) found that 83% of respondents had trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the past 12 months. A major factor in this difficulty is known as the Skills Gap – the difference between the skills an employer needs and those offered by its workforce.
While technical skills are certainly a factor (31% of respondents to the SHRM study reported a lack of trade skills such as carpentry or welding), “soft skills” are often the most-cited concern for managers across the country. Employees may be technically competent, but lack the creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration skills necessary for a business to be competitive.
So how can you close the skills gap with your employees and ensure that your workforce is prepared to meet company goals? An important first step is identifying both the technical skills and soft skills required for success in each position. Take a close look at your star performers – what are they able to do that others just aren’t grasping? What have you found to be missing in recent job applicants or new hires? Once you know what you’re looking for, the following practices can help to identify candidates with the right stuff and develop valuable skills in existing staff:
• Develop a succession planning program for key positions or hard-to-fill roles. Your current talent pool likely includes individuals who could become long-term superstars with the right coaching.
• Provide in-house training to develop the specific technical and soft skills needed by the organization. We know everyone is busy, but consider it a valuable investment of your time in building a strong, effective team.
• Use behavior-based interview questions to understand a candidate’s approach to topics such as teamwork, customer service, and conflict resolution. Avoid simple “yes/no” questions to which an applicant can easily guess the right answer, and probe for real insight into the soft skills the position requires.
• When using outside search firms, work with an experienced recruiting team that has a clear understanding of your company culture and values. The recruiter should be able to look beyond the job dates and certifications listed on a resume, and screen applicants who are likely to be an overall great fit.