The Skills Gap is a Myth

The Skills Gap is a Myth

Author: Kathleen Cherrie

In today’s world, hiring is all about finding the perfect candidate through an algorithm from an applicant tracking system (ATS) to plug in perfectly where there is a job opening. Companies only want people who can come in, sit down, and get to work right away and produce results. And in some cases, that can work. Minimal time spent having the employee learn everything and they can produce results immediately with little to no supervision. That sounds great and is an ideal that most companies keep holding onto. But guess what…you can’t always get what you want. The hiring process has gotten to the point where people beef up their resumes to give companies and the ATS exactly what they are looking for, prepare the exact answers the interviewer wants to hear, gets hired, and then is expected to know how to do everything. And while certain roles can allow for that kind of transition (usually upper management and more senior roles), all types of positions are being treated the same way and it simply isn’t working. If you want to be a receptionist, you need at least 2 years of experience. We get back into that catch 22 where you need a job to get experience but in order to get experience you need to actually get a job.

Companies are always left scratching their heads when an entry level position has high turnover or the wave of people they hired to plug into the job opening and had no real training leave. It’s really not rocket science here. If you take the time to train employees to do the job you want them to do with clear expectations and guidelines, there is a much higher chance that employee will be productive and drive results. We need to start hiring for potential. People are passionate about things and want to be challenged, but you cannot see that or their potential from just reading a resume.

We need to invest in our employees. They want to be treated like people and taking the time to coach employees on their responsibilities and provide any necessary training will give you a strong workforce. Managers need to become coaches instead of bosses and this means collaboration. It is not enough to have the annual performance review be the only time managers provide feedback. This needs to be an ongoing conversation where clear expectations are set on what work needs to be done and a timeline for when the work needs to be done. And if employees are struggling with a certain task, the manager should have a conversation with the employee about what strategies have already been implemented and focus on what the problem or roadblock is. The manager shouldn’t just be an authority figure that tells employees what to do, when to do it, and then sits back. They should be actively working with employees to find the proper resources for their team that will ease the burden of a task or project. And a major part of this is training. The onboarding system at a lot of companies is rushed and employees are left with little guidance as to what they need to do, so starting with a strong onboarding program that focuses on employee responsibility and training is essential. That is not to say we need to train unskilled employees from the ground up, but it is saying that we need to work with new hires to make sure they are familiar with a company’s specific systems in order to feel comfortable working alone. If we start off an employee with the tools for success and a manager who is willing to coach and help break down barriers they may face, then two things happen: 1) the employee feels valued and will be motivated to do well and 2) you invest in someone who will be good at what they do and who you can eventually move up in the company and have it continue to be successful.

Additionally, companies should start investing in internal training programs. If you’ve already gone through the trouble of finding good talent, why give that up? An employee who starts in an entry level position and is a hard worker who produces desired results should be recognized for his/her accomplishments and that is the type of person you want to target when there is a new position that needs to be filled. Many organizations hire from within and are successful because they have retained their talent and allowed for growth. Nobody wants to be stuck in a position forever, so it is important to remember that employees enjoy engaging work that will challenge them. If you’re not putting in the effort, they will notice that and find somewhere else. Implementing an in-house training program that allows employees to move from one position to another motivates employees to work harder because they know there is the potential for something more. Companies should value their employees and show it through recognition initiatives as well as upskilling their workforce. This will make the hiring process so much smoother and lessen the chaos of trying to find the best talent the quickest. By implementing a system that allows employees to thrive in their current role and beyond, companies are taking charge of the hiring process and creating a community of success that will continue to renew and grow.

Kathleen Cherrie is a trained HR leader with a BA in Psychology from Chapman University and a Professional Certificate in Human Resource Management from UC Berkeley. Professionally, she has a background in financial management, environmental health and safety, community outreach, and customer service roles.

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