The self-made skills shortage

– and how companies can overcome it
The self-made skills shortage

Why should we analyze applicants in depth if we have no choice about who we hire anyway? 

We hear this question a lot. It reflects the frustration many companies feel about the lack of skilled workers. And rightly so? We say: Yes and no. For one thing, we think that the shortage of skilled workers is not a “force of nature” that companies are helplessly exposed to. And secondly, we are certain that in many areas there is no real shortage. But rather an onboarding and “distribution problem”. We are convinced that companies can do a good job even with a shrinking talent pool if they

  • set their recruiting priorities differently,
  • tailor the onboarding of new employees precisely to them,
  • focus more on the potential of their existing employees.

To do this, they need good data beyond the CV.

Personality determines performance 

Both when recruiting new employees and when assigning existing employees, we believe it is important not to rely on first impressions. Instead, the HR department can use AI-supported analysis methods. To identify personality traits that are difficult to recognize even at second glance. But which contribute significantly to whether employees really have the desired impact. This depends less on the requirements formulated in a static job advertisement. And more on what makes a person tick and whether they have certain character traits. Such as a desire to learn, openness to new topics and social skills. Many technical skills can then be learned on the job. 

Promote horizontal career development

Not every new job has to be filled by recruiting from outside. Instead of the traditional vertical career ladder, horizontal development paths are gaining in importance. This means that employees are no longer necessarily aiming for the next higher position. But want to look left and right within the company. Gain new experiences and take on responsibility outside of their previous working routine. This is possible, for example, by working on projects. Or in the course of so-called “short assignments”. These are short-term tasks that often only require a very specific skill set to be combined in one or two people max. A tangible example of such a short assignment is the creation of a digitalization concept – a task that is likely to be at the top of the agenda for many companies right now. 

In an interview with Tom Ritsch, co-founder of the transformation consultancy AOAIO, which you can find linked below, he emphasizes that in future, hire-on-demand approaches and therefore the human fit will become much more important for companies than fixed skills. Project teams are increasingly being put together like teams in team sports, where each player has an assigned role. The captain’s armband is worn by whoever has the right personality to motivate the team and keep it together. The advantage of these changing team constellations and horizontal career development in general is that employees acquire a wide range of skills that the company can tap into again and again as required. 

Agile employees – (im)agile companies? 

In order to tackle the supposed shortage of skilled workers, it makes sense for companies to consider recruiting and learning & development much more holistically than before and develop a comprehensive “mobility concept” for talent. In this context, US HR expert Josh Bersin has identified three directions of talent movement that good HR work should focus on: 

  • that of new employees into the company,
  • that of existing employees within the company and
  • former employees returning to the company (so-called “boomerang employees”).

Two of these groups – existing and former employees – are already familiar with the company’s culture and products and, at best, have also proven themselves professionally. On the basis of AI-supported employee diagnostics, which analyze the personality of individuals with a focus on their entrepreneurial potential, for example, these employees can be (re)recruited for new tasks and challenges in a targeted manner. At the same time, such an analysis gives companies a certain degree of assurance that new applicants. Even if they are not a perfect fit for a position from a professional perspective, have character traits that can be built upon. And that they will not bring any foreseeable toxic behavior into the company. If these criteria are met, employees can be qualified for their new role step by step with good onboarding and individually tailored L&D programs.

Shine on the inside, sparkle on the outside

Companies that invest in personality-based learning & development and thus support the internal mobility of their workforce can also have a positive impact on external recruiting. How can they do this?

Promote diversity:

By suggesting suitable roles and positions to employees based on an unbiased personality analysis, the foundation is laid for diversity and variety in the staffing of teams. Diverse positions and a high degree of equal opportunities within the company in turn attract talent from outside.

Avoid employee turnover:

When employees have the opportunity to develop within the company. And pursue new career paths on their own initiative, they stay longer. According to the “2021 State of Internal Recruiting Report” by Smart Recruiters, high-performing employees are 20 percent more likely to stay with the company if they can change their role or sphere of influence if necessary. Low staff turnover, in turn, has a positive effect on the employer brand. And thus the external perception of the company by applicants. Tom Ritsch from AOAIO takes a similar view. Even if it seems that the company cannot find suitable employees. It should continuously work on positioning itself on the market for existing and potential employees, says Tom. (You can read the whole interview here).

Improve the candidate experience:

If companies take an increasingly situational approach to filling roles and positions internally and enable their employees to develop horizontally as they wish. For example as part of projects and short assignments. There is a good chance that this will also rub off on external recruitment practices. In other words, here too, HR may focus more on the essentials. On characteristics and skills that are really needed at the moment. Instead of using static requirement profiles as a benchmark and thus drawing attention to deficits. Recruiters talk to candidates and focus more on qualities. Such as willingness to learn, creativity and enjoying taking over responsibility.

Yes, you can.

There are many great real-life examples that show that companies that embrace new learning and career paths and make people’s personalities their compass are more resilient in the face of the skills shortage:

  • VW has abolished standardized training in technical professions. Instead, trainees teach themselves what they need to learn in an open experimentation room.
  • Kuhn Elektro Technik GmbH, one of the largest specialist companies in the industry in Munich, takes on long-term unemployed people, even those without the relevant training or previous experience. The main requirement is that they have the right personality. A success story that is looking for imitators.
  • The IT consultancy Viadee is one of the most popular employers in Germany. This is also because it constantly keeps an eye on the needs, wishes and limits of its employees. In addition, every employee has a mentor from the HR department at their side.

So companies certainly do have a choice. Namely, whether or not they are willing to self-critically question their previous recruitment practices and face up to the new realities with maximum openness and the support of smart technology.

You may also like
HR should focus far more on personalities! Image

HR should focus far more on personalities!

Personality first – this is one of the most important trends in dealing with talent. Why? The so-called “hard” skills that companies need are changing faster than ever before. Today’s expert skills will be yesterday’s news tomorrow. What remains are the supposedly “soft” skills and people’s personalities. The better companies know their employees, the better they can…

Recruit the curious! Image

Recruit the curious!

“We run this company on questions, not answers.” This sentence comes from Eric Schmidt, Google’s former CEO. It makes it clear which characteristic the company values most in new employees: Curiosity. The recruiting strategy is correspondingly consistent: when the company was looking for engineers, it published a huge billboard with a riddle.

Measuring the GenZ: Lost in translation is so 2003 Image

Measuring the GenZ: Lost in translation is so 2003

“Too leisure-oriented? – We’re just hard-working in a different way.” was the headline of the brandeins magazine in September 2020, using many examples to draw a picture of a Generation Z that is changing the world of work practically “on the job”. The new generation of employees is neither lazy nor inherently less well educated than previous generations, , even if they are repeatedly accused of being so.