This past fall, Wharton School management professor and HR expert Peter Capelli created some waves when he claimed in a guest column for the Wall Street Journal, “With an abundance of workers to choose from, employers are demanding more of job candidates than ever before. They want prospective workers to be able to fill a role right away, without any training or ramp-up time. In other words, to get a job, you have to have that job already. It’s a Catch-22 situation for workers—and it’s hurting companies and the economy.”
Capelli went on to quote a recent report from Manpower stating that 52% of U.S. employers surveyed say they have difficulty filling positions because of talent shortages. Then he stated, “But the problem is an illusion.”
Strong words, and they provoked a strong reaction—almost 99% of the article’s commenters agreed with Capelli. He wrote a follow-up article, in which he said, “My favorite email came from somebody in a company that had 25,000 applicants for an engineering position and [the company’s hiring] people said none of them were qualified.”
Capelli’s suggested solution to the problem, and a golden opportunity for staffing firms: flexibility. “Finding candidates to fit jobs is not like finding pistons to fit engines, where the requirements are precise and can’t be varied,” he said. “Jobs can be organized in many different ways so that candidates who have very different credentials can do them successfully.”
As a partner in HR to your clients, you can help them find qualified workers they might otherwise miss by using your expertise in hiring. You know that a candidate who looks great on paper might be a wreck in person, and vice versa. You also know how easy it is for companies to decide that the “ideal” candidate they created when they wrote their job description is now the minimum every applicant has to clear just to get an interview.
When advising your clients on hiring, focus on finding a solution to the whole situation, not just a human-shaped piston to fit an engine, as Capelli put it. A full-time position that requires experience and credentials that no one candidate is likely to have can be broken into two part-time positions, or a full-time position for most of the job duties with others fulfilled as needed by a contingent worker.
You can also use COATS Staffing Software to find the most qualified candidates. The customizable skills screens in COATS help you record all the skills an applicant has shown, and you can fine-tune it as much as you need to meet the demands of your clients. Plus, if you’ve got the Resume Parsing option in COATS, you can review their work history and skills from within the software itself rather than looking through a resume in another program or relying on a printout.
Do you agree with Capelli that the “qualifications crisis” is an illusion? Do your clients complain of a lack of qualified people, and if so, do you agree with them? Let us know in the comments!