Making the most of the talent pool

You would have thought companies looking to recruit must be smiling. Record numbers of students who achieved good A-level results yesterday and yet who can’t get a place at university are all waiting to be snapped up by eager companies.

Sadly, despite high levels of available recruits, many employers are still struggling to fill their vacancies. The reasons for this vary, but include skill shortages in certain job and market sectors. Employers are lulled into a false sense of security that while unemployment is so high they can be ultra choosy and have ‘the pick of the bunch’. Additionally, the time employers are taking for their decision to hire is an issue, as premium candidates are not available for long!

Recent experiences indicate that instead of employing a candidate who fits 90% of the tick list, employers are holding out for someone who ticks all the boxes, often overlooking good candidates in the process.

One could argue that this is a short-sighted approach, but with businesses still hedging their bets regarding economic recovery or not, they seem to feel they can afford to follow this policy.

For young job seekers, things could not be more difficult. Competition has never been as intense, and each year of the recession simply adds more numbers to the existing talent pool. As university places become harder to come by, students will re-assess their plans and seek vocational qualifications and apprenticeships as a solution, avoiding degrees in an attempt to secure work and avoid student debt. As can be seen already, many talented people have opted out of the job hunting melee and have started their own businesses, taking the route of entrepreneurship rather than face the dole queue.

What about the more mature job seeker? Things move so fast that six months out of work can mean being at a severe disadvantage, and staying abreast of industry developments is now crucial. They also face a conundrum – do they pay hundreds or thousands to re-train at a time when money is tight? The fear is they could spend the money, get a certificate and still remain unemployed – although this does score points with prospective employers, it is still a gamble.

Employers should be taking advantage of this newly available (and existing) talent. Not only are there bright young things looking for a chance to shine, but there are older workers who could add considerably to an organisation’s talent pool and bring maturity and experience at a reasonable cost. It is only natural that sometimes employers are tempted to overlook mature workers, but if they can look beyond mere youth, mature employees can often offer higher levels of loyalty and a better work ethic.

Mature workers with proven skills and abilities offer an employer the opportunity to ‘try’ before they ‘buy’ through engagement on a temporary basis with a view to a permanent position once the candidate has demonstrated their transferrable skills.

Of course, merit should be the overriding criteria when making an appointment, irrespective of age and more to do with the position in hand – although in the current economic landscape the employers hold most of the cards. That said there should also be the realisation that not everyone is managing director material. Leaders also need followers.

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