The talent shortage is real and getting worse. Luckily, Steve Jobs has the solution.
Over the last few months, I've spoken with recruiting leaders at dozens of Fortune 500 companies, getting their reaction to some of the hiring challenges we all face. It seems that everyone agrees the talent shortage is for real and getting worse, but most recruiting leaders are reluctant to implement the bold actions needed to address the problem.
In this article, I want to make the case that we have a problem, get your viewpoint, and then offer the vision of Steve Jobs, Darwin, the underpinnings of the American Industrial Revolution, and obviously Geoffrey Moore, Jimmy Buffett, and Thomas Friedman. These are our guides on how to implement the appropriate corrective actions.
Here are some of the more obvious factors explaining why the gap between top talent supply and demand is increasing:
Don't hesitate to challenge my thinking here or add some ideas of your own, but the point is that you can't use yesterday's solutions to solve tomorrow's problems. New ideas and new approaches must be found.
From what I can tell, only those willing to be innovators and those willing to look at the problem/solution from a totally new perspective have a chance of ending up on top. According to Darwin (and every economist), everyone can't win when there is a finite supply of a scare resource.
In some cases, price is the equalizer, so expect some dramatic wage inflation for top performers in the short term. Of course, if your comp and benefits department is looking at yesterday's data, you'll lose valuable playing time fighting this argument. This is one of the bottlenecks that needs to be broken in order to move ahead at a rapid enough pace.
Geoffrey Moore offers some interesting marketing insights in his book Crossing the Chasm. The book describes how to market technology products. In the book, he describes these five types of buyers:
Moore suggests that the key to successful selling in this type of market is targeting customers who are early and late majority buyers, since these are the largest pools. From a recruiting perspective, I'd suggest that you need to be an Innovator and Early Adopter type of buyer. This means being the first to try out everything. Given a finite supply of talent, waiting for some new tool to be proven to work means you'll be stuck with the leftovers.
Steve Jobs offers another perspective on how to reorganize your recruiting resources. Jobs recently made the contention that record publishers needed to unlock their music to increase portability across different devices. Jobs made the case that total sales would increase as a result, not decline.
History suggests that common parts and transportability of data increases growth and efficiency. For example, consider the growth of the PC industry and Microsoft, in particular, when everyone began using the same Windows-based operating system. Similarly, the shift from a craftsman model to mass production and the use of standardized parts accelerated economic growth and was the foundation of the American Industrial Revolution.
The Information Age is causing a comparable transformation with everyone having access to the same information. This is the contention Thomas Friedman makes in his book The World is Flat. In many cases, what he describes is the root cause of the globalization of the workforce and the increase in workforce mobility.
Back to Jobs and the iPod for another ground-breaking transformation. The reason the iPod continues to be such a huge success is its seamless ability to link a pretty decent music player (but not the best) with an online store that allows a person to easily buy and download music. It's this systems integration that makes it work, combining a bunch of hardware and software together so that anyone can easily and intuitively use it.
From the perspective of ease-of-use, systems integration, standardization, and marketing, most recruiting, interviewing, and hiring processes are in the Stone Age. Craftsman (recruiters) still dominate the show, using unsophisticated tools to address an Information Age problem.
With this in mind, here are some specific things you can do to move your recruiting process into the future:
I could end this article by saying that 10 years ago few people believed global warming was a threat, and look what happened when nobody took action. But I won't. Because in this case, there is a solution.
- Lou Adler
Lou Adler (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the president of The Adler Group, a training and consulting firm helping companies hire more top talent by implementing performance-based hiring. His Amazon bestseller Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 1997, 2002) started the performance-based hiring and selection movement. This was followed-up with the award-winning Nightingale Conant audio tape program, POWER Hiring: How to Find, Assess, Hire and Keep Great Talent (1998). Adler is a veteran recruiter and founder of CJA Executive Search. His early industry career included general management positions with the Allen Group, as well as senior-level financial management positions with Rockwell International's Automotive and Consumer Electronics groups. Adler holds an MBA from UCLA and a B.S. in Engineering from Clarkson University, New York.
Article as first appeared on www.ere.net