Poll: Big AND Small Companies Can't Find Skilled Workers


Here are some stark facts of reality about the employment workplace right now:

  1. Fact #1—The national unemployment rate is relatively high (right around 8.2%) and the underemployment rate, which is a more accurate indication of what’s happening, is higher than that.
  1. Fact #2—Despite the unemployment (and underemployment rate), there are still approximately two to three million jobs available in the country right now.
  1. Fact #3—Not only are larger companies having trouble finding skilled workers, but smaller companies are experiencing the same problem.

That last fact is evidenced by a recent poll by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International. That poll indicated that over 30% of small business owners and chief executives had unfilled job openings in July because they couldn’t find applicants with the right skills or experience.

Click here to read the full Wall Street Journal article.

Independent, third-party recruiters have accounts with both large and small companies.  It doesn’t matter the size; if a company is having trouble finding the candidates they need, they’ll pay a recruiter’s fee in order to find them.

That’s because the cost of having the position open is greater than paying a recruiter to find a good candidate to fill the position.

What’s been your experience?  Do you have accounts with large companies, smaller companies, or both?  Are they both having trouble finding the right candidates?  What are the differences between the two?  Does one group drag their feet more than the other?

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(Matt Deutsch, the Communications Coordinator at Top Echelon, is a regular contributor to the Top Echelon Recruiter Training Blog.)

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Views: 390

Comment by Randall Scasny on July 30, 2012 at 8:38am

I've read the entire story / press release on this topic. The conclusion is specious. If one reads the entire story, one important fact is left out: this skills "shortage" is based on the fact that the companies of today do not want to train their employees, which was the norm not too long ago. As I have state previously on this blog, when I was hired for my first professional job, I was placed in a 3-month training program plus another 6-month "shadowing" term where I went out with my experienced engineers to learn the applications and the customer base.  This isn't happening anymore. Also, this apparent refusal to train is more prevalent with U.S employers than non-U.S. In fact, it's very common that the IT body shops who insource workers in the U.S. offer training to their freshers. Here's one example:


One of the softball excuses employers like to allege on this subject is that they hire people who completed degrees, etc. Well, no college program can be so current to have their graduates market ready without training. Case in point: I have been working with a new college graduate that has 3 IT degrees! He wants to get into computer forensics. He interviewed for a large global company. Unfortunately, his forensic tool skills (FTK) were different from what forensic tools the company uses, which is proprietary. This candidate is a steal right now. But the company has passed him over. Crazy!

So, this skills shortage is really of the employers' own making.

Randall Scasny


Comment by bill josephson on July 30, 2012 at 9:08am

I agree, it's the companies creating the "inability to find workers."
In these poor economic/jobs times I've found, just as Randall said about not training employees, I believe they're just not budgeting for training due to cost cut backs with most companies believing that perfect candidates able to perform 100% of the job description at a bargain salary or nominal increase are lined up for blocks outside their doors.

Thus, they become super selective.  When companies turn away candidates able to perform 80-90% of the job, they cause their own headaches......and subsequently as third party recruiters, ours.

The misnomer in this economy is "there are no jobs."  There are jobs.  The problem in bad times is, generally, the employer becomes stringent on their requirements, just as in good times candidates become demanding with multiple offers/opportunities.  What I see are Hiring Authorities trying to capitalize in this market time.  So they put the pressure on their own recruiters and third parties to find perfection.

And when a fee is involved, I find their standard rises from "perfection."

This is my experience.  I do not speak for others.  With budgets tight, spending scrutinized, and a perceived plethora of eminently qualified candidates I see long lumbering interview/hiring processes with large interview participants on the itinerary, group decisions, and lots of inaction with ultimate "pass," as an end result. 


So am plenty busy with jobs, but are they really "fillable" is what I ask myself as I embark on the recruiting journey to find out.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on July 30, 2012 at 5:37pm

Based on a tremendous amount of feedback I've rec'd from various people that have interviewed for new positions over the recent few years, employers are being extraordinarily particular. Often, non-selected candidates are given an extremely vague or superficial "reason" for not moving forward.

Of the people I've spoken with that have made to the top 2-3 candidates (several times in many cases), they are are essentially "qualified" yet the employer picked another person. Sometimes the explanation is something, like "we went w/ the other candidate that had more XYZ experience or is already familiar w/ our environment or the team felt they were a better fit." 

You can't help but wonder what would happen if some of these companies interviewed their own existing employees with the same level of scrutiny they are putting external candidates through. I would imagine if they did something like that "blindly" without the reference of knowing those people already, many would not be able to successfully pass the screening process to land their current job. 

It seems that there is also a huge gap between what gets posted on job ads and what gets discussed during interviews. I've had several people tell me that the job they applied to was translated far differently by the recruiter, hiring manager or others they encountered during the interview process. I'm not sure if these people don't know what they are looking for or if they don't know how to communicate that or they are just too lazy to put together a decent job posting that accurately targets who/what they want to find. 

As for companies being willing to hire, then train, aside from proprietary or internal-specific knowledge I don't think that is going to happen any time soon. It would be great if they would at least consider doing so for the lower end of the career spectrum. 

Unfortunately, in some cases "experience" is over-rated and the wrong way to evaluate a person's competence or ability to perform. Every single thing any of us does now, was at one time something we had zero experience doing, yet most of us figured it out. Does the person with 12 years of experience automatically have more expertise than the person with 2 years of experience? It depends, of course, but not necessarily because of the number of years...

~KB @TalentTalks 

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on August 1, 2012 at 9:53am
I think part of it too is hiring managers have this incorrect assumption that high unemployment = hard to find talent is waiting by the phone for our call. You cannot offer 10% less than your competitors and expect to get the best CCIE out there, for example.


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