It is not a myth! The “Skills Gap” is real. But the question is why? If you speak to job seekers, they will tell you they are talented and skilled, yet no one calls them back. Yet, when speaking with recruiters and companies who are actively looking to hire, they say it is very difficult for them to find quality talent.

What do employers look for in a candidate? Some of you will say experience, others will say skill, and then there are those that will say personality. The answer is yes to all of those things—plus education and interpersonal skills. Employers are looking for the complete package: someone who is intelligent, educated, and skilled, knows how to communicate, and has a great personality. Someone who is proactive, creative, and pleasant.

Having a degree and experience is not enough. In fact, several big name employers suggest that a degree is nice but is no longer a requirement. The most desirable skills today are soft skills (a.k.a. interpersonal skills–the cognitive ability to reason and communicate both verbally and in written form on all levels, with co-workers and customers).

Once upon a time, we all thought that a 4-year degree was the golden ticket to career success, but when Google shared an internal employee survey that showed no link between having a 4-year degree and being a successful employee, it confirmed what most employers already knew.

eSkill Assessments conducted a client survey to determine the most challenging part of recruiting. The most frequent answer was “quality of talent,” specifically, a “lack of quality candidates” and difficulty in “finding qualified candidates.”

How is this possible? One reason there aren’t enough qualified candidates is because the truly talented and qualified candidates are already working or have started their own business. That’s not to say that everyone looking for a job is unqualified or unskilled. There simply aren’t enough skilled workers to fill the 6M open jobs in the U.S. right now.

Consider this: Indeed.com is visited by nearly 200 million people per month and it seems like most of them do not even take the time to read the job descriptions before sending their outdated résumés. According to Glassdoor, companies receive, on average, 250 résumés per open position, and only about 2% of applicants are called for an interview. That is a lot of résumés and cover letters to screen, and, in most cases, recruiters and hiring managers will also search a candidate’s LinkedIn profile to try and find out more about the candidate.

The decision to hire someone is the most-costly decision a company will make. Choosing the wrong employee can affect the culture, morale, and team dynamic–as well as cost tens of thousands to replace that employee. Considering all of the factors mentioned in this article, that’s why it is so damn hard to find talented and skilled employees.

Chris Fields

Chris Fields is an HR professional and expert resume writer with more than 13 years of experience as a former practitioner and current HR consultant. He is the curator of two websites: CostofWork.com and ResumeCrusade.com , and contributes HR-focused content to many others, including PerformanceICreate.com and SmartRecruiters.com . He has been listed by the Huffington Post as one of the “Top 100 Most Social Human Resources Experts to Follow on Twitter”, one of the “Top 40 under 40” by the HR Blogger Network, one of the “25 Must-Read HR Blogs in 2013”, and also featured on Oprah.com. He is very active with the Society of Human Resource Management, working closely with conference directors, communication chairs, and social media teams from Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee to develop social strategies to engage attendees and enhance their conference experience. Chris earned his master’s degree in Labor and Human Resources from Ohio State University. In 2005, he moved back to his hometown of Memphis, TN, where he has developed a reputation for helping his clients create HR strategies, and individuals master the tough economic challenges of the South.

4 Comments

  • Avatar Mellissa says:

    Top reasons for not finding quality talent are a low number of applicants, a lack of relevant work experience among those that do apply, competition from other employers and a lack of technical skills among job applicants.

  • Avatar Kendall says:

    Local markets are simply not producing enough qualified candidates, that’s another reason why you can’t find them.

  • Avatar Paul says:

    The most difficult people to recruit are highly skilled medical professionals, scientists, mathematicians, tradespeople, and technicians.

  • Avatar Kristina says:

    I think my answer is not a popular answer, but some of this shortage is on recruiters. We have to work hard and dig deeper when we hit a road block. We must think creatively and involve hiring managers in the creative though process and assessment of their actual needs (vs ideal). Its a challenge with a lot of variables so companies need to approach it strategically.

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