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Bridging the Skills Gap: Recruiting for Transferable Skills

 

RonHerzog CEOBy most accounts, the War for Talent has returned. Despite the recession, strong candidates with in-demand skills are fielding multiple offers, and employers are realizing that the candidates that meet all of their requirements are often not available within their budgets. If an employer isn't willing or able to pay what the applicant thinks she's worth, the position is left open, costing the organization even more money and lost productivity. How, then, can employers meet the challenges they face in this market in hiring talent that meets all job requirements, at the salary the organization is prepared to pay?

Increasingly, business owners, HR professionals and hiring managers are taking another look at exactly what the job requires, and finding creative ways to hire affordable talent with strong skills and experience who can grow into the role. An ideal candidate is someone who could seamlessly carry out all the duties and responsibilities of the job. Realistically, that person may not exist, at least not for the money being offered. The candidate who probably does exist, however, is someone with relatable experience and transferable skills who could quickly be brought up to speed on the missing skills/experience required, with some additional training.

Cathy McIsaac, Owner and President of FPC of Arlington Heights, said "I've been working more and more with clients to identify the truly critical requirements for specific engineering positions as well as skills and experience that would be highly similar. We're then able to broaden our search to locate very strong candidates with resumes indicating they've likely acquired directly transferable skills that could quickly be updated for my clients' organizations with minimal training time."

Training is becoming an important issue in a market where required skills are lacking. Recessionary government spending cuts have brought a decrease in public sector funding, and state and local governments are cutting financing for technical, engineering and health care programs, despite the fact that the need for trained service providers in those areas continues to grow. The overall result is a labor market with fewer skills that increases the difficulty of finding someone fully trained. More businesses are relying on in-house training to grow the employee they can't afford to hire or can't find. A simple internet search for "corporate training and development" yields job postings such as this: "My client is a multi-million dollar luxury goods group based in Dubai. We are urgently seeking a Senior Training and Development Manager.... this role requires an individual who has developed and implemented management growth and development strategies across multiple sectors." Corporate training jobs are themselves becoming increasing hard to fill.

Many large companies are taking advantage of the collaboration software already in use in their organizations to develop training platforms to bring candidate skills up to speed. Microsoft's SharePoint platform is used by one in every two corporations according to the Association for Information and Image Management, including companies such as Dell, UPS, Valero Energy, Kroger, and Procter & Gamble. The benefits of corporate training have been identified and implemented at the highest levels of corporate organization because they are cost effective, and allow leaders to retain an edge in this volatile market – benefits that can serve hiring managers and business leaders alike at all levels of the corporate structure.

Hiring managers and HR must determine whether the candidate meets most of the core requirements for the position and has strengths and experience that will be valuable to the organization. Hiring managers may be well served, however, by engaging a recruiter who specializes in the company's industry and disciplines to evaluate which candidates have held past positions where they may have acquired very similar qualifications and transferable skills that would make excellent prospects for their position if provided with additional corporate training.

Ron Herzog is the CEO & President of FPC National.

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