Workplace Trends

Workforce Trends

Open Positions Remain Unfilled: Skill Gap or Rigid Hiring Process?

By James Greenway on July 23, 2014

With new jobs emerging on the market and unemployment decreasing, it seems as if organizations would be filling open positions quickly.  Unfortunately, many positions remain open for months as employers scour social media sites and scan countless resumes in search of the perfect candidate.  Some blame a lag in hiring on a skills gap in the US.  But what if the perceived gap in skills is really just a lack of hiring vision?

A Harvard Business Review article, 7 Reasons Your Company Can’t Hire, reports that too often organizations become focused on only hiring candidates who’ve held the same job title as the open position.  In fact, 47% of employers use this shortcut to reduce the candidate pool.  Job seekers must recognize this as a potential obstacle and develop strategies for directing decision makers away from job titles — and to the actual competencies and skills required for success in the position.

How can candidates overcome the job title objection?

  1. Take the lead.  It’s your responsibility to position yourself appropriately to a potential employer, so review your resume for language that targets too narrowly.  For organizations outside your industry, create a version that softens industry jargon and is written with a wider audience in mind.
  2. Reassess your accomplishment stories. Use the SOAR model (situation, obstacles, actions and results) to develop examples that can be transferred to a variety of functions and industries.  As the HBR article explains, “A former sociologist with advanced statistics training may not have been a market research analyst, but she certainly has skills befitting market research work.”
  3. Focus on your ability to master new tasks.  Be prepared to discuss how you’ve tackled projects where you’ve lacked experience.  Highlight your resourcefulness, determination and ability to grasp new ideas quickly.

Most of the time you won’t have all of the skills and experience listed in the job description.  But by connecting the dots for a potential employer, you can expand your opportunities and clear the job-title hurdle.

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