As any hiring manager will tell you these days, a low unemployment rate makes recruitment significantly more difficult. It can be demoralizing to receive a small stack of applications with few qualified candidates, half of whom will ghost some time during the application process. One of the most frustrating consequences of the low unemployment rate is the ongoing talent shortage, which has many HR departments wringing their hands and desperately hoping for better days. However, they shouldn’t hold their breath—it looks like the talent shortage is going to continue for the foreseeable future, so more pragmatic and savvy recruiters are switching up their strategies to mitigate the ongoing shortage, instead of just waiting for it to end.
Why are we in a talent shortage?
The main reason for the ongoing talent shortage is the low unemployment rate, which currently hovers around 4%. Because most people are employed, open positions go unfilled for weeks at a time. The talent shortage isn’t only caused by a low unemployment rate—it’s the culmination of a number of factors.
One factor is the widening skills gap. The skills gap refers to the gulf between what skills employees have versus what skills are expected or required of them. Hiring managers across many industries face the issue of the skills gap, but none have it worse than the tech sector, due to its rapidly evolving requirements and its constant adoption of new tools and systems.
Another factor that is contributing to the current talent shortage is an aging population. The US workforce expects 77 million baby boomers to retire over the next ten to fifteen years. It’s questionable whether millennials and Gen Z’ers have the skill-sets to take on newly vacated positions. Those that are talented enough will be highly sought after.
Who is most at risk?
The talent shortage doesn't affect all industries equally. Highly skilled jobs in finance, technology, business, and manufacturing will be hardest to fill, while in many cases, there will be a glut of unskilled and semiskilled workers in other industries. It’s also important to note that the skills gap isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon—it’s a global problem, and different countries are feeling the crunch in different ways. Japan has an even bigger issue with their disproportionately aging population. And while tech industries in the United States and Hong Kong will be hit hard, India is uniquely situated to be the only nation with a surplus of tech workers.
How can I succeed despite the talent shortage?
While there’s no getting around the talent shortage, there are many ways to mitigate its effects through a rigorous, efficient, and smart recruitment strategy:
- Adjust your employer brand to appeal to millennials and Gen Z’ers
- Expand your toolkit to include new recruitment technology
- Utilize niche jobs boards that are especially suited to your industry
- Develop a comprehensive upskilling program for current employees
Unfortunately, the talent shortage shows no problem of letting up. As the Korn Ferry Institute wrote in May 2018, “by 2030, there will be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people.” The numbers seem challenging because they are, and it’s important for HR departments to stay realistic and plan ahead. The talent shortage leaves no room for error in your recruitment strategy. Because of this less-than-ideal forecast, savvy HR departments are optimizing their recruitment strategy to gain every possible advantage in an increasingly competitive environment.