HIRING

How CEOs Can Close the Skills Gap

Entrepreneurs may be missing out on the best hires by not doing this recruiting tip.
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The fight for the White House is over, but the Obama administration still has another uphill battle--lowering unemployment. Roughly 12.3 million people are unemployed, and there are about 3.6 million job openings in the United States. These numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tell an unsettling story.

Imagine the impact on the economy if we filled those 3.6 million jobs from the unemployed pool. We could reduce the number of job seekers by 29 percent.

One part of the solution is job creation. Entrepreneurs have been instrumental in creating new jobs and new industries to help end the job crisis. But when CEOs from the fastest-growing companies were surveyed, they cited that their biggest pain point is finding someone who can do the job. With the growth in new and existing industries, the pipeline for experienced candidates is limited, revealing a skills gap in sectors like manufacturing and technology.

So as the job market changes, what can CEOs and entrepreneurs do to help close the skills gap?

I believe there are skills in certain jobs and industries that are very applicable in another. Chief executives should seek out employees with transferrable skills that adequately match their underlying business needs.

At Rise Interactive, we faced a tough but common staffing challenge. As a rapidly growing company, we needed more employees to service our new clients. But as we started looking for new employees, we found a limited pool of digital marketing experts. Also, as we interviewed potential candidates, they either didn’t want to make the jump to a new company or requested too high of a premium. To overcome this challenge, we developed a new model to achieve our staffing needs, mainly by recruiting from other industries.

Here are three steps that CEOs and entrepreneurs can take to close the skills gap:

1. Recognize the talents and skills needed to excel beyond the person’s work experience.

When CEOs start thinking about staffing and recruitment, they should ask: What are the core competencies required for the job?

2. Identify the industries that possess the people with those core strengths.

Many Rise Interactive employees formerly worked in financial services, the sciences or engineering. We focus our recruiting efforts on these industries because these professions require precise quantitative thinking. We recognize that people with quantitative backgrounds have the analytical skills necessary to manage and execute digital marketing campaigns.

3. Create an evaluation system.

A company should create some type of grading system or test as a part of the interview process. As companies scout for new talent in different industries, they should make sure candidates rank highly for those core competencies. For instance, every prospective employee in our channel teams takes a pre-employment analytical thinking exam. However, firms should not stop there. They should also create structured on-boarding programs to acclimate those individuals to a career in a new industry.

All business leaders are looking to fill the demand for talent but they may not be looking in the right place. In assembling the industry’s most talented digital marketing team, sometimes you have to look outside of the industry to continue to be competitive.

Last updated: Nov 16, 2012

JON MORRIS | Founder and CEO of Rise Interactive

Jon Morris is the founder and CEO of Rise Interactive, a digital marketing agency in Chicago which specializes in digital media and analytics.




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