The New Talent Landscape: HR Professionals Report a More Challenging Market for Finding Skilled Talent

According to a new SHRM Survey report released at last month’s SHRM 2016 Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., HR professionals are reporting the most challenging market for talent in years.   A low number of applicants, candidates without the needed work experience, competition from other employers, candidates’ lack of technical skills and local markets that are not producing enough qualified candidates are the top reasons HR professionals say they are having difficulty in filling open jobs, according to the HR professionals surveyed.

The industries reporting the highest levels of recruiting difficulty were health and social assistance and manufacturing, but HR professionals across industries are all having more trouble finding skilled talent than they were just three years ago.  While an improved job market has been highlighted in the news in the past year, hiring managers and organizational leaders may not be as aware as HR professionals of the extent of current levels of difficulty in filling open job vacancies.  HR professionals may therefore need to build a solid business case for greater investments in securing talent – either through increased staffing resources or in some cases higher compensation budgets.  They must also make the case for investing in talent through building the skills and education of their existing workforce.

Fifty-nine percent of HR professionals reported some level of basic skills/knowledge deficits among job applicants over the previous twelve months. The top basic skills shortages were writing in English, basic computer skills, spoken English language, reading comprehension and mathematics.  Meanwhile, 84% of HR professionals reported that they are finding applied skills shortages in job applicants over the last 12 months. The most commonly reported applied skills shortages were critical thinking/problem solving, professionalism/work ethic, leadership, written communications and teamwork/collaboration.

In order to more effectively develop strategies for bridging skills shortages and gaps, HR professionals must understand the unique skills requirements of their industry. The most common strategy HR professionals reported their organizations are taking to deal with recruiting challenges was to leverage social media.  However, the approach they considered to be most effective was to train existing employees to take on hard-to-fill roles.  Yet, despite the ongoing problems with skills shortages, the survey found that it is not uncommon for HR professionals to work without a training budget.  While 69% of HR professionals surveyed said their organization had a training budget over the last twelve months, almost one-third (31%) reported that their organization did not. One-half of HR professionals reported that over the past twelve months their training budgets had remained the same. Meanwhile, 39% said they had increased and 11% said they had decreased.  If skills shortages grow worse, a key objective of many HR professionals will be to make a strong business case for investing more into the development needs of employees through training and educational reimbursement.


For the full report go to:



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