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CEOs: 5 Strategies To Crush The Talent Shortage

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Top boutique executive search firm
CEOs: Five Ways To Crush The Talent Shortage

In 2023, CEOs are faced with an all you can eat buffet of unfortunate realities that can impact a company’s bottom line. Supply chain disruptions, economic downturns,and increased social polarity are just a few of the less than helpful conditions that leadership must navigate to stay relevant today.

But when it is all said, and done it is nearly impossible to move forward as an organization without the right talent. Recent reports from SHRM, and Manpower further confirm this fact. As many as 70% of major corporations are experiencing a talent shortage despite the recent massive layoffs. The generally accepted conundrum is that workers with the right skillset to take on old, and emerging challenges in fresh ways is what is in short supply.

In reality, from my previous experience working in tech, I believe it is the approach companies are leveraging to find the right talent that is partly culpable for the gap. The vast majority of orgs rely on their networks including referrals, alumni, friends, and former colleagues for introductions to meritorious quality candidates.

It is very commonplace to see orgs with a substantial number of employees that graduated from the same college, worked at the same companies, and live in the same areas as the employees at the org they are about to join. Consequently, when experienced qualified candidates outside of the interviewer’s circle of influence emerges they are passed over for someone more familiar. Or, if the stars align, the candidate is low-balled on salary, or hired at a lower contribution level making it harder to move up the proverbial corporate ladder.

Where innovation, and progress is key shouldn’t that same spark of ingenuity be clearly evident in our talent acquisition processes? Should a company ever reach 100% homeostasis? Just maintaining what is successful without branching into uncharted or not fully explored territories will inhibit growth in the longterm, and make you look boring yawn..

Here are five ways CEOs can crush the talent shortage, and help power-up your recruitment and selection approach. The following insights are meant to spark a conversation with you, your internal leadership teams, and third party search partners. This is not an exhaustive list, but it is a healthy start..

1. Partner with a variety of educational institutions.

At first glance, this may look similar to the traditional early career reach-outs like a job fair or on-campus presentations, those are all sturdy staples in the recruitment tool book. However, since our focus with this post is identifying experienced candidates flying below the radar, sponsoring continuing education classes, and skills transition programs that can help successful professionals in other fields pivot to your industry is what we are proposing.

Take inventory of the roles, and the skills needed to fill the vacancies. Now think about what job title could transition into the opportunity with some additional training, and guidance. Proactively identifying candidates that were laid off and presenting these hidden opportunities can further broaden your talent net. In many instances skills are transferable from one industry to another with some tweaks, and an internal mentor or sponsor.

2. Upgrade Employees. Internal mobility is a fantastic way to fill roles, and retain talent, but you must have an internal process for it. Let's start with making it easy for employees to show interest in moving into other areas of the company. Sometimes an employee wants to transition because of a bad manager or a newly earned degree. Whatever the case might be provide the recruitment contact, and or manager info on the internal job post. Create a culture where it is okay for an employee to move on without any consequence.

Also, provide opportunities for an employee to reskill or upskill conscientiously. According to a Harvard Business Review article, half of the working population will need to learn new skills in order to remain competitive. By 2025, 85 Million jobs will be phased-out due to automation.

Upgrading skills conscientiously means providing the details on what skills are needed for a role, and linking those skills to available training. Ideally, the learning modules are part of the company’s learning culture, but if not you can partner with several organizations like Coursera or LinkedIn Learning among many others.

The important thing here is to not solely focus on technical skills as roles that are more customer facing or management oriented require stronger soft skills. Employers can create opportunities for their employees by investing in their progress, and sharing potential career paths within the company as a result of specific types of training.

3. Rethink hiring practices. Hiring bias is the elephant in the room. Posts on TeamBlind, and Discord underscore a painful reality that is difficult to address, and even harder to eradicate. Of course providing pre-training on bias to employees that will transition into interviewing is helpful, but absolutely not enough.

On this particular matter, academia has a great approach that works in the corporate sphere. Colleges like Harvard University employ a “Need Blind” policy when evaluating a student’s eligibility for admission. Need Blind means that the school does not take into consideration an applicant’s ability to meet their financial obligation to the school. The college looks at the educational background, and other factors that merit evaluation. Additionally, they provide ongoing support once the student is granted admission.

The idea or spirit behind “Need Blind” can also work In corporate hiring, this is how. In Fair Play Recruiting, the first interview is conducted by a two member team like the Sourcer/Recruiter, and Team Manager, or a third party partner, and leadership. What's important here is to include leadership in the beginning of the process, which encourages cross collaboration, and consensus building.

If that goes well, the candidate moves forward to a panel review for a final hiring decision. The review is conducted by a panel of employees from varying contribution levels, and backgrounds, but in the same org. Furthermore, to ensure a “blind” selection process, the candidate profile is rid of personally identifying information like name, city, school, company names, and assigned a number.

Here is a great article on the "blind" resume process.

The reviewers have access to the candidate’s experience, credentials, and interview notes. The panel can discuss the profile, and conduct a vote. A unanimous decision is not necessary, but those that fail to move forward can be revisited at a later date.

This is a great way to curb bias, and to also incorporate the voices of non leadership employees that have a better understanding of the day-to-day work required to be successful in the role. It also makes the hiring processes more friendly, streamlined, and efficient.

4. Become a sexy employer.

According to a recent WSJ article, workers want more flexibility, and overall happiness at their jobs. To grasp how important this is, some professionals are willing to take a pay cut if they feel the company culture facilitates a positive work environment. One way employers can become more attractive to potential hires is by offering a variety of work opportunities. Remote work is here to stay, and the push for onsite work by some companies has spurred the silent quitting phenomenon we addressed here.

Attractive companies know diversity in every area including how and where employees work is integral to a positive work experience, and contributes to a favorable public image. When workers are happy, companies find that they are ranked in several Best Companies To Work For lists, and that also makes it easier to recruit new candidates. Another thing to consider is supporting charities, and initiatives that speak to the company’s ideals or values. Workers are more likely to want to work for a company that aligns with their own humanitarian concerns.

5. Be prepared to make changes. Remaining agile which also means pivoting in another direction, if needed can flip the script for your organization. Where many companies fail is in their lack of transparency with their employees. Trust is hugely important to employees, and future hires. Most have a family to support, a mortgage, student loans, health, and living expenses. They want to be sure of the likelihood of continued employment.

If you don’t know what a company is doing, and why, it becomes impossible to maintain, and or develop trust, and loyalty. If a worker cannot trust the company to be transparent, and honest in their dealings then they will not work for you. It is really that simple.

It is important to note that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to talent shortages. The best approach will vary depending on the specific needs of the company and the industry. This is a healthy start in a good direction to get the wheels turning. Ultimately, a multifaceted approach that takes into account the unique needs and challenges of each organization is essential. By being proactive and strategic in talent management practices, companies can ride out layoffs, and uncertain economic climates, and position themselves for long-term success.


About Recruiting Awesome. We are a pithy group of headhunters that bring a highly personalized touch to executive search. We network with fresh engaged visionaries, and our engagements are never outsourced. You partner with one key contact for the entirety of your search. We welcome assisting you on your internal leadership opportunities. Do not hesitate in reaching out here. Some of the greatest breakthroughs happen in times like these. If your organization wants to hire results oriented compassionate leaders then our search firm is for you. If you are a leader passively entertaining new opportunities, feel free connect with us. We would love to hear from you.. Let's start this exciting journey together.


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