What does it mean to have a skills mismatch? A skills mismatch is the gap between an individual’s job skills and the demands of the job itself. With currently low unemployment rates and an evolving job market where overly specific training may become irrelevant, our organization is more than likely experiencing the pains of a skills mismatch, but you can work to fix this.
Write better job descriptions. Take the time to write a thorough job description that speaks clearly to your intended audience. Give your supervisors and hiring managers time explore what skills are actually needed for a new hire to start contributing right away. For example, if your company posts a position that requires two years of previous experience, ask “What skills do we expect the candidates to have learned in those two years of experience?” This simple question can help your team dig in and identify the desired skills acquired and set clear expectations for all involved. Thorough job descriptions will assist your recruiting team in their efforts to identify which candidates to bring in for interviews as well. The more a recruiter understands the role they are working to fill, the better they will choose candidates whose qualifications and fit deem them worthy of an interview. When your job description clearly speaks to your intended audience, the right candidates will better understand their potential role in your organization. Internal lingo doesn’t belong in a job description, so write one your ideal outside candidate could easily identify with.
Use skills testing. After you’ve pulled together a thorough job description, with the distinct skills required for employee and organizational success, you can use that information to conduct skills testing. This valuable step allows you to gauge the abilities of new hires and internal employees to more accurately place people in roles that are a match for them. Estimates of how much a mismatch costs an organization vary widely—from $7,000 to three times the salary for an individual. You should evaluate this cost within your own organization to use for planning your next step to fix the skills mismatch.
Develop a skills training program. Once you’ve completed skills testing, you can provide skills training for the external labor pool and current employees. If your organization is simply not getting qualified candidates to apply for your positions, consider changing your qualifications and investing in training new employees from the beginning. If you expect your employees to keep up with skills training on their own, the effectiveness and quality of training they receive may become a guessing game for your organization. Since all employees need continued training, you should provide it and measure the investment and outcome of your program.
As you establish effective skills training programs, you’ll better position your organization to retain the employees you’ve invested in via internal promotions and new challenges while continuing to hire for new entry-level positions. Another way to reduce any skills mismatches faced by your organization is to get involved in your community by partnering with education providers. Make your organization’s needs known to high schools, community colleges, trade schools, job coaches, etc. This will give the community an opportunity to prepare the future workforce with you and create a strong foundation for your potential new hires.
Kristina Minyard is currently the Director of Ignite Education in Huntsville, AL. She has over 11 years experience in HR, Recruiting, and Business Development. She utilizes her skills and experience in HR Consulting, Technical Recruiting, HR Policies, Staffing Services, and Labor Relations to create content on her blog hrpockets.com and other platforms.