Hiring Tips: Working Around a Skills Gap

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You’ve conducted detailed audits of your workflows and you know exactly what kind of skills you need in order to keep your company growing and keep your departments productive. For each open position, you know which credentials are must-haves and which ones can be considered optional. You can list your deal breakers and the flexible points on which you’re willing to negotiate. You know exactly what your ideal candidates look like, which is great. There’s only one problem: There are very few of these ideal candidates in your applicant pool.

If you’re having trouble finding your required skill sets among the general population, or if you can find only one or two candidates who meet your needs and this misalignment limits your options, here are a few ways to overcome this obstacle.

Review your list of deal breakers and demerits.

In the current labor market, many skilled manufacturing candidates have been out of work for six months or longer. If you consider long-term unemployment a detriment or a red flag, you may be automatically dismissing an entire population of skilled employees who will soon be picked up by your competitors. Get rid of this outdated and damaging cutoff, and if you’re working with other ingrained and self-destructive biases, get rid of those as well.

Offer in-house or sponsored training.

Consider offering training and certification courses in house, partnering with a local institution, or providing tuition coverage to employees in return for a one year commitment to the company. If you take on slightly underqualified candidates at a discount and then take the initiative to bring them up to speed, you’ll save over the long term while still gaining access to the skills you need.

Reward employees who gain skill sets on their own.

Motivate your teams to expand their own knowledge bases by offering rewards and bonuses to those who pursue continuing education. Showcase your rewards program in your job posts, and let candidates know that you respect—and willing to pay—for ambition, goal orientation, and interest in personal growth.

Launch a mentoring program.

Overcome your skills gap by assigning partnerships between those who already know and those who have yet to learn. Strategically designed mentorships can provide aspiring but under-skilled employees with professional exposure, structure, and a sense of direction, all of which will increase their value to the company.

For more on how to hire candidates with high growth potential and then actively develop that potential, contact the staffing and management experts at CSS.

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