Skills shortages

With an unemployment rate of 7.9% (Metropolitan France, Oct-Dec 2019), we cannot speak of a shortage of workers but more so a shortage of skilled workers! This article is addressed to HRBP operating in France. It is intended to be general.

For those that have not been on the job market recently or for the hierarchy far removed from recruitment problems, it seems easy to find suitable candidates. In reality, it is difficult to find talented employees at all levels!

Technology has drastically changed skills required sets and learning for life seems to make more sense today than ever before.

There are more people retiring, less young people entering the market and many moving within the Schengen area. In the 60s and 70s people generally entered the work force aged 16-18 years. Today the average age for finding a stable professional situation is 23 years.

We are also in a period where start-ups seem more interesting than traditional companies. The new generation has different expectations to their elders.

Generation Y is seemingly less faithful and often has less professional stability sought by companies. Since the 2008 crisis more junior candidates have had chaotic professional paths imposed upon them. They have not enjoyed the growth and opportunity that were offered to early generations when jobs were plenty.

Most companies have not adapted their recruitment policy to the new entrants to the job market and we will soon be interviewing those born in 2000!

Candidates often remark what seems to them to be the unfairness of the job market.

The required skills and diplomas necessary for the job market do not match the salaries and conditions offered. Employers should also give a debutant a chance to show what they can do. Experience has to be acquired somehow!

Clients want flexibility, but this does not seem reciprocal for the candidates.

« Clients only want to interview me for jobs that are carbon copies of the one I do now. »

« I want more positive work/life balance. »

« I do not want to be micro-managed! »

Some ideas for attracting talented candidates!

1. Think again about flexi-time!

I recently met a candidate who preferred another position as the one offered by our client imposed upon him a lunch hour of 90 minutes.

Transport problems, children or personal projects are all reasons people need more flexibility with their hours. Flexi-time is very appreciated by candidates.

The 35-hour week will surely end and flexi-time could be negotiation leverage.

2. Home working!

Home working can be integrated into many positions with a little imagination and is always appreciated by candidates. Mobile phones and computers mean physical presence is less essential. Many companies organise themselves when there are transport strikes or pollution problems. Why not consider it on a more regular basis?

The new labour law introduced by the government (Sept 2017) states: employees will be able to telework by right. If the employer objects, you must justify your refusal.

> Designated time for training

A company offering fixed time for professional development offers a real advantage. Learning for life is becoming more and more of a necessity and goes way beyond computer professionals who are obliged to learn new technology to remain competitive on the job market.

> A margin for progression

Leave a margin for professional progression for all new recruits. Without being able to learn new skills, employees quickly become demotivated.

> Recruitment delays

Of course, you have to weigh up the pros and cons, but long delays before deciding whether or not to offer a candidate destabilises your future employee by sending a signal that there is a doubt. If candidates sense there is a doubt, they will not be reassured and it increases risk for them! It also means they may go to the competition.

> Experience -v- potential

It might be worthwhile giving more weight to a candidate’s skills, personality and potential rather than their lack of professional experience.

> Hierarchy –v- Coach

The new generation would prefer a coach as opposed to a manager. Micro management is associated with managers, respect, mentoring and support are associated with coaches.

> Career development

Career development and training profit only a minority of employees and normally those that are already well qualified. Career development increases employee engagement. Perhaps it is time to democratise some more the career development programs and help bring up the new entrants.

> Corporate responsibility

Many young and talented candidates we meet want to give something back to society. They are interested in saving the planet and helping those less fortunate than themselves. Perhaps it is time to show case what your company gives back to society.

> Conclusion

During the past few years, HR professionals have been personnel officers, HRBP and today the fashionable title is Talent and Happiness Manager.

Thirty years ago no one had mobile phones, computers and internet. During this time job titles, job content and the tools available have changed and we all recognise the challenge that is change management. Perhaps it is now time that we adapt recruitment to our new environment.

Charles Kettering once said, The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress.

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