Recruiting in the age of a Skill Shortage: Strategies and Solutions

Article By
James Cumming
James Cumming
Posted On18th September 2023

Quite often we experience times in our business where we have a skill shortage within a department, or some very niche skills are missing, or even sometimes companywide skillsets are missing.

This will happen now, and in the future. It’s part of business. However, there are considerations we can make to minimise this and look at many ways of upskilling, finding skills and nurturing skills.

Here are some of my thoughts on how we can best tackle this challenge.

Skill shortage is more than just a buzzword. It represents a widespread challenge affecting businesses and the entire economy. But what does it mean when the demand for certain skills outpaces their supply in the workforce? And how can businesses adapt?

We can attribute skill shortage to several interconnected reasons:

Technological Surge

Rapid technological advancements this century require businesses to seek experts in emerging fields. However, there’s a lag in education, leading to a skills gap.

Changing Industry Dynamics

With industries constantly evolving, the skill sets they demand also undergo transformations. For instance, with the green revolution in energy, there’s a burgeoning demand for solar technology experts – a demand that was comparatively muted two decades back.

The education landscape might sometimes focus on certain areas, believing them to be more market relevant. This inadvertently leads to an abundance of some skills and a deficiency in others.

The repercussions of these intertwined factors are palpable. Companies often find themselves allocating more resources to talent acquisition. But this risks settling for employees who may not necessarily align with their precise needs. Such compromises can, in turn, impact operational effectiveness.

Building Employer Brand

Far from being a fleeting trend, the employer brand stands as a linchpin in a company’s talent acquisition strategy. Think of it as the company’s persona in the vast job market. It’s what makes a prospective employee think, “This is where I want to be.”

A potent employer brand doesn’t just garner interest; it attracts the right kind of interest. Candidates who find alignment with the company’s ethos, its culture, and its outlook are naturally more inclined to apply. This synergy usually results in better role compatibility and diminishes employee attrition.

To nurture such a brand, here are some strategies:

Employee Voices: Nothing speaks louder about a company than the voices of its own employees. Authentic testimonials from them, especially when showcased on platforms like LinkedIn or the company’s official portal, can offer a realistic glimpse into the company’s culture. Often, these authentic insights overshadow even the most polished marketing campaigns.

Narratives of Growth: Stories highlighting an employee’s evolution within a company can be incredibly influential. Be it an account of swift upward mobility or a tale of role transition and skill acquisition, such narratives spotlight the myriad growth avenues within the enterprise.

Engage in Community Initiatives: A company’s active involvement in community or philanthropic endeavours not only adds to its goodwill but also amplifies its brand image. Such gestures accentuate the company’s commitment beyond profits, resonating with a large pool of potential employees.

Rethinking Job Requirements

In the modern job market, focusing primarily on degrees and years of experience seems increasingly outmoded. The problem with this method is its inherent narrowness. Many prospective candidates get overlooked merely because their credentials don’t fit the brief.

Here’s how businesses can pivot:

Highlight Transferable Skills

Not all skills are industry specific. For instance, a project manager in the tech world might be well-versed in skills like team leadership, efficient time management, and juggling multiple tasks — skills that are just as crucial in, say, a healthcare setting. By recognising and valuing these adaptable skills, companies can access a more varied talent base and fix all skill shortages.

Value Potential Over Pedigree

It’s high time companies moved past an over-reliance on qualifications and past job titles. Instead, the emphasis should be on evaluating a candidate’s potential. Attributes such as inquisitiveness, enthusiasm, and a keenness to learn often give a better sense of how an individual will adapt and flourish in a role. Some, if not most, of the required attributes can easily be honed to fix the skill shortage.

Broaden Skill Perspectives

While technical expertise is undoubtedly essential, soft skills shouldn’t be sidelined. Qualities like efficient communication, analytical thinking, and a capacity to adapt are often paramount, especially in roles that require collaboration or direct consumer engagement. Recognising the significance of these skills can lead to better team cohesion and improved client relationships.

Collaborations with Education Partners to fix the skill shortage gap

An innovative way to bridge the skills gap is for businesses to join hands with educational bodies. By fostering collaborations with universities, colleges, or vocational schools, companies can play an active role in shaping the curriculum to mirror industry requisites. This alliance also opens doors for real-world experiences for students through internships, workshops, and guest sessions, enabling them to gain a better grasp of market demands.

Furthermore, these ties facilitate early identification of burgeoning talent. Companies can potentially scout and secure promising candidates even before they step into the professional world, ensuring a steady influx of adept talent.

Internal Talent Development

The quest for talent need not always be outward. Sometimes, the solution lies within. Especially when the sought-after skills are so specialised that the external talent landscape is barren, it makes more sense for companies to focus on upscaling their current team.

By initiating consistent training programs, workshops, or even courses, businesses can ensure their teams are always abreast of the latest trends and techniques. This not only bridges the prevailing skill void but also improves employee morale. When employees see their organisation actively investing in their progression, it fosters loyalty. And, if you have people already working for you that can solve the skill shortage why wouldn’t you use that talent first?

Benefits of Remote Work

The digital revolution has redefined traditional work paradigms. A substantial chunk of jobs today can be executed remotely, effectively erasing geographical constraints. For businesses, this means an opportunity to tap into a global talent reservoir. This becomes particularly invaluable when a specific skill set is scanty locally but plentiful elsewhere.

Apart from the evident advantage of a broader talent spectrum, the remote working model also brings along other rewards. These include notable savings on operational overheads and heightened employee contentment, as the autonomy and flexibility associated with remote work are highly prized by many professionals today.

Redefining Compensation Packages

When it comes to hiring and retaining top talent, the power of compensation cannot be overstated. Yet, compensation is not merely about the salary number that appears on the monthly pay cheque. In the modern workplace, it embodies a comprehensive package that includes base salary, performance bonuses, and a range of benefits. These can range from health insurance to retirement savings plans, and even extend to intangibles like work-life balance and growth opportunities.

Let’s talk specifics: a competitive salary can be the initial magnet that attracts talent. But what keeps employees anchored are the additional perks. Think of health insurance not just as a box to tick, but as a signal to the employee (and their family) that their well-being is a priority. Similarly, a retirement savings plan goes beyond current compensation—it symbolises an investment in the employee’s long-term prosperity.

Additionally, making room for professional development—like offering workshops, courses, or tuition reimbursement—shows employees that their growth and the company’s growth are aligned. This embodies a sense of loyalty and reduces turnover, positioning the company as an employer of choice for professionals who are ambitious about their career path.


Harnessing Tech in Recruitment

The impact of technology on talent acquisition is both deep and wide-ranging. Platforms such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and industry-specific job boards have forever changed the dynamics between employers and job seekers. These platforms are more than just digital billboards for job openings; they are dynamic ecosystems rich in data, analytics, and network connections.

However, leveraging these platforms effectively requires nuance. A job posting should not just be a laundry list of responsibilities and requirements. It should also be a narrative that gives potential candidates a glimpse into the company’s culture and values. A well-crafted job description will attract not just applicants, but the right kind of applicants.

Further, technology offers analytical tools that can scrutinise hiring metrics, revealing trends and efficiencies—or lack thereof. Armed with these insights, companies can refine their recruitment strategies, enhance their targeting precision, and even predict future hiring needs. This is an opportunity not to be missed to help you with your skill shortage.

The Role of Employee Referrals

Employees are more than just cogs in the company machine; they are ambassadors who carry a deep understanding of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. They have a firsthand understanding of the work culture, what it takes to succeed, and what areas might need a little sprucing up. Given this, who is better to recommend other candidates than current employees?

Employee referral programs essentially incentivise this process. They turn employees into scouts on the lookout for new talent within their own networks. By offering incentives for successful hires, companies not only enrich their talent pool but also increase engagement and satisfaction among existing staff.

This strategy tends to offer three main benefits: faster hiring cycles, because candidates come pre-vetted to some extent; reduced hiring costs, as companies can sidestep at least some advertising and screening expenses; and a more harmonious work environment, as new hires often integrate more smoothly when they have a pre-existing relationship with current employees.



At re:find we have been in Executive Search for over 20 years. We believe that recruitment is not a one-off transaction but rather a long-term partnership. We aim to build long-term relationships with our clients, providing ongoing support and advice to help them find and retain the best talent for their organisation.

In addition, as a business, we understand that every organisation is unique and that there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to recruitment. That’s why we offer bespoke recruitment solutions that are tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Whether you need help with a single hire or a full recruitment campaign, we can help.

We are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality service. As part of this, we ensure that we take the time to understand your organisation’s culture and values, as well as the specific skills and experience needed for each role.

For more information on our executive search practice and our CCS framework please contact our Managing Director, James Cumming.

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