If you find yourself experiencing a Talent Shortage, ask yourself these three questions.

Talent shortage…. These two words strike hysteria in organizations which almost always leads to War Room meetings and perceived DEFCON 1 status levels. I’ve found that when organizations use the term Talent Shortage, they actually have a problem with their recruiting strategy. If you find yourself experiencing a Talent Shortage, ask yourself these three questions.

Do you trust your gut over data?

According to ERE.net, top organizations like Google, Sodexo and even the US Army have a recruiting strategy based on data. Their approach to recruiting is more similar to a scientific approach versus the traditional trust your gut most hiring managers like to use.

Rather than falling into the trap of trusting your gut, or I what I call repeating the same hiring mistakes, apply data in your sourcing and interviewing strategy. Here are some quick ways to start recruiting with data:

Create a success profile and measure it

Start by identifying what traits or competencies your most successful employees have in similar roles. Many organizations spend so much time and money on this process for career pathing initiatives but fail to apply this to creating a measurement tool for incoming employees. The process doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a talent mapping project but could simply be interviewing top employees to determine what the successful candidate profile should be.

Once you have these characteristics, apply a weighting to each and create a sourcing and interviewing scorecard. Each question would be graded so you can create a ranking of target candidates. (This will be a topic of a future post.)

I would run a couple of pilots in different segments of the organization to fine tune the scorecard before rolling it out to the entire company.

Review the source of hire for your most successful employees

This one seems like a no-brainer but even I’m guilty of not stopping long enough to do this analysis. Previous to becoming a recruiter, I managed large sales teams and always had key companies or organizations I would recruit from. I noticed many of my successful salespeople came from companies like Enterprise and local call centers. They already had the sales training needed to be successful, I just had to teach them my industry. Naturally, these types of companies were primary targets for my hiring efforts.

Apply this same approach to your sourcing efforts. Identify the firms you’ve recruited your most successful candidates from and begin building out your pipeline. Then your time will be spent not in identifying candidates, but in evaluating which employees from these firms you’d like recruit.

Once you conduct this analysis, you may there are certain pockets of talent pools you have not explored. The data may lead you to explore what I call the +1 strategy. Simply put, if Enterprise is a successful company to recruit from, perhaps you should explore some of the competitors in the same industry like Hertz. So take your target and apply the +1 strategy to grow your hit-list.

Are you branding your job opportunities?

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Recruiting has evolved to a branding and relationship management process. The days of posting a job and praying the right candidates apply are now fairy tales from days of old. It’s a candidate’s market and companies have to get with the times.

To attract the right candidate, successful organizations have an aggressive positioning statement and strategy for managers to leverage during the interview process. Organizations like Google and Apple have the luxury of worldwide brand recognition, allowing them to attract candidates with minimal effort. Those of us in the not so glamorous limelight have to put more work into attracting the same quality of candidate.

Managers must be equipped to sell their open roles to perspective candidates. I recently spoke with an account executive from CareerBuilder to gain insight on what candidates are looking for in companies.

His advice?

Hiring managers should be able to answer these questions for candidates:

  • What makes your role different from similar roles in the market?
  • What is the career path look like for this role in your company?
  • Does your company invest in the community either through donation or involvement in non-profit partnerships?
  • What is the leadership philosophy of the company?

Managers who are able to authentically articulate the firm’s position in the market and relate it to the potential success a candidate would have by joining will have an edge in a market with a talent shortage.

Do you only recruit when you have an open position?

I find successful leaders are rarely troubled by perceived talent shortages because they remain in recruiting mode. I love working with leaders who maximize their LinkedIn contacts by introducing me to candidates whether they have a role open or not. These are usually the leaders who have a succession plan in their head and I have the luxury of bringing it to reality.

How do you help managers who do not have the recruiting mindset?

Create pipelines of qualified candidates and conduct a monthly or bimonthly pipeline review with them. This is a great way to maintain not only the focus on recruiting but the excitement involved in identifying great candidates.

You can also hold open houses or information sessions to allow potential targets meet hiring managers in a less intense environment. I know one firm that held a lunch and learn that qualified as Continuing Education credit for the industry. They used the online signup sheet as their target list for future recruiting efforts. It was a brilliant way to bring target candidates on campus and conduct soft interviews during the “networking” times before and after the event.


There’s a major difference between a talent shortage and a recruiting strategy that sucks. If you cannot answer these three questions, you probably need to take a hard look at your recruiting strategy. Meet with your recruiting partners and hiring managers to discuss creative solutions of your own to overcoming the increasing competition for talent!

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

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Published by Trent Cotton

I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. My passion to lead, innovate and engage the HR industry. I use my blog at NakedHR.me to reach thousands of readers and provides unique insights into a range of HR and business topics. I currently write for NakedHR.me and SprintRecruiting.com. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive. Connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/trentcotton or on Twitter @TrentCotton.

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