At a glance
The disruption of the past few years has driven multiple shifts in dynamic within the employment market.
Wellbeing, flexibility and soft skills have moved up the list of priorities in recruitment. Against this backdrop, factors such as the Great Resignation (despite being something of a passing phase) have created recruitment challenges.
The most significant issue is that, although there is a wealth of employment opportunities available, recruiters are struggling to match the available talent with the vacant roles.
According to Deloitte Insights, many countries are now seeing an increasing mismatch between the skills workers offer and those that employers need.
As these mismatches intersect with longer-standing demographic trends and newer trends for earlier retirement, they will continue to shape the experience of workers and employers for years to come.
For hiring managers who feel they can’t get the “right” person for the right job, it may be necessary to start thinking laterally.
More specifically, identifying transferable skills in current staff, as well as potential new recruits, can not only expand the pool of applicants, but it can also pay benefits for companies in cross-industry knowledge and expertise.
Bernard Poon FCPA, a partner at EY and a CPA Australia director, says that, in recent years, it has been difficult to get the right accounting graduates and, currently, it is also challenging to find experienced hires.
“Graduates have more choices,” he says.
“The accounting field is not always perceived to be as attractive as other professions, and yet a lot of entrepreneurs, for example, started with an accounting or commerce degree.”
In the case of graduate hire, Poon says EY is exercising a more flexible approach.
“We prefer people with the right accounting and finance skill set, but we are considering graduates from different backgrounds such as engineering or mathematics, as long as they have a high level of intelligence and the ability to work in a team environment.”
Poon says that, in thinking laterally, companies may need to put new hires through more training processes.
However, it can be even more effective to partner them with a mentor, he says. “On-the-job training by a senior staff member is definitely more beneficial to the candidate.”
Identifying aligned skills
By role-mapping – listing the core skills and the peripheral skills needed for a position – employers may be able to broaden their pool of valuable candidates, says Shivani Gopal, CEO of women’s leadership and education network The Remarkable Woman.
“For example, someone who has worked in sales has strong skills around relationship and crisis management that may be able to be utilised in other roles,” she says.
“An employee who has worked in law and does well with detailed processes and procedures could excel in an operational role.
“Similarly, you might find someone for a finance-related position by considering, among other things, their ability to problem-solve.”
Blind job-matching removes the bias, says Gopal. “You are hiring people for skills rather than titles.”
“Looking at what an employee could be in the future, rather than relying too much on where they have come from, is also a shift in focus that can pay results,” says Edwin Trevor-Roberts, CEO of Trevor-Roberts, a career management firm that helps organisations build thriving work environments.
“The problem with graduate programs and defined development pathways is that a person can be seen as ‘the class of 2018’. One individual, however, may show much more growth and promise than another,” he says.
“Very often, managers don’t see how people have changed and evolved over time. We don’t see they could do something different.”
Focus on job design
Job design is also important, says Trevor-Roberts. “People join a firm because they are naturally attracted to being able to use their skills and competencies to do interesting work.
“For accountants, a job that involves compliance work or audits, for example, may be made more attractive by the fact it involves interesting clients or environments.”
While hiring managers are looking to identify transferable skills, they should also hold up the mirror and see what the opportunities to use those skills look like.
It’s a given that a position will attract more applicants if it offers a solid remuneration strategy and gender pay parity, flexible working, perks such as health insurance, upskilling opportunities and a strong company culture.
Yet meaningful work is now more important than ever as the best and the brightest seek impactful choices in their career journey.
This is especially true of milliennials, who want purpose and passion embodied in their role. This can simply mean that they have the ability to push a project forward and be taken seriously by colleagues.
In a marketplace where employment opportunities for candidates are likely to exceed available candidates for some time, it is a combination of strategies that is most likely to ensure hiring success.