Skills shortage. Two words that seem to polarise and paralyse those of us in the industries most affected.
How and why we find ourselves still in this predicament for certain skills is probably far too big a question to contemplate here.
What I do wish to address however is the general lack of transparency in communication that we offer our respective job markets. Only this week, I’ve read about two resource sector employers who have bought in overseas labour due to the ‘skills shortage’. When I went in search of where jobs for these organisations had been advertised or whether they had communicated more generally their project timeline, the number and sorts of skills they would require, I came up with…..zilch, nada, zip.
Unfortunately, this is all too common.
Similarly, we’re happy for the press to report the number of jobs generated by major Australian projects, but then allow the poor job seeker to wallow in the void of nothingness. We actually don’t communicate where these jobs will be, with whom and what type. Then we cry foul and denounce it the fault of ‘the skills shortage’.
Now, I’m not suggesting that simply creating a dynamic online presence which provides consistent job-related information will solve the skills shortage issue. However, the number of emails and phone calls I receive a week from the average job seeker – across all levels – seeking the most basic of information about employers or projects suggests to me that if we did become much better at communicating project progress, needs, timeframes, locations and the recruitment process, we’d actually go a long way to helping those who are keen to actually find us! Go figure.
And I’m on my soap box about this for good reason. I’ve sat in your chair. I’ve managed a number of major in-house recruitment teams and have been challenged along with every other business, to fill the sometimes overwhelming number of vacancies. Even then though, I lamented our sad and sorry career web page (which couldn’t be changed for love or money) and my complete inability to really communicate all the great stuff our business was doing and could offer a candidate.
And yet, we spent a great deal of time internally communicating to employees. We produced intranet sites, issued emails and newsletters, all designed to promote the great workplace culture we had and all geared to retain.
My question is – ‘why aren’t we sharing this same information with the job market?’ Why don’t we allow passive and active job markets a peek inside to know what it is like to work for us?
The times are changing for recruiters. We can argue all we like about the lack of evidence supporting social media (and this is simply because a) most organisations still don’t use it, or b) don’t have appropriate measures in place), but with so much of it free and with so many millions of the population using it, we’d be foolhardy not to consider its use in spreading the branding message. As recruiters, we must work with our internal communications teams to leverage the internal messages outwards.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of seeing yet another careers website announcing company values and offering ‘outstanding career progression’. Don’t tell me what you offer, SHOW ME. Give me real life examples of how your values come to life in the workplace. Give me real life examples of employees who have progressed their career internally. You support women in the workplace? Show me examples of women I might want to work with or aspire to. You support Aboriginal employees? Same. Show me. You reward and recognise outstanding performance? Show me how this is done.
Enough with the rhetoric. Cut through the ‘marketing speak’ and tell candidates how it really is. Give them practical information they can use. Tell them specifically what you want, when and where. Give them tips on how they could best prepare for upcoming jobs. Share what goes on inside your organisation. Give them a better reason to apply to you than just a bland, generic job advert.