Skills Gap Headaches? Here’s What You Can Do

Skills GapSkills gap. Job gap. Knowledge gap. Whatever you want to call it, hiring managers see a gap of some sort between open jobs and the people looking to fill those jobs. What will bridge the skills gap?

Hiring managers complain that their applicants lack even the basic knowledge needed to fill a role. And job hunters think companies want purple unicorns—super humans with an impossible combination of skills—to fill open roles. There is likely some truth on both sides of the issue.

I just read another article talking about the skills gap. This article offers ideas for closing that gap for good. The author makes a good point. She says:

Companies can shift their recruiting strategies to ‘hire for attitude, train for skill’ as a first step to close the skills gap. This approach to recruiting prioritizes hiring talent who align closely with a company’s culture, vision, and attitude above finding hires with the perfect set of pre-existing skills.”

Hiring someone who fits well within the culture of your company makes sense. In my book, ROI By Design, I say the following:

Training “cannot make a manager a nicer person. If the manager knows what to do and shows through exercises in the course that he or she can display the soft skill, then training is successful. If after the course, the manager chooses not to use the skill on the job then that is another issue. It is no longer a training issue. Reinforcing what training can and cannot fix with a gap in performance is important. Soft skills fall under the same rules as technical skills with regard to what training can do. If addressing the gap requires a knowledge, skill, or attitude change, then whether it is a soft skill or a technical skill it can be measured. If it is not knowledge, skill, or attitude change that is needed, then it is not a training issue.”

No amount of training can fix a personality issue. Training will not change the chemistry between a new hire and your company.

Hire for Attitude; Train for Skills Gaps

If you’ve found a great person, but the skills are lacking, what can you do? As a hiring manager, you must ask: If this person fits in my company in every other way, is training the answer?

You have to answer these questions:

—How wide is the gap between what they know and what they need to know?

—Does my company have the time to train them and get them up to speed?

—Does my company have the resources available—materials, mentors, learning tools—to train them?

—Are we looking for purple unicorns? If so, do we need to change our mind about who we are willing to hire?

Ways to Transition New Employees

You can address many of these topics with a solid learning program. Prepare new hires with an onboarding program that helps them learn the ropes at the new company. Pair new employees with mentors. More senior employees can guide newer employees as they set their career path.

What about you? Do you think moaning about the skills gap is helpful? What solutions have you tried to fix this problem? Please comment if you have ideas for solving this issue.

And, if you need help strengthening your training or onboarding programs, please contact us here at eParamus. We’d love to help.