Too much focus on job titles is undermining our ability to fill our more challenging job openings, argues Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder, in his recent HBR blog post. By looking only at applicants with specific job titles and overlooking candidates who possess many of the essential skills required and who could take on the responsibilities with a basic investment in on-the-job training, he observes that many employers could be creating their own skill gaps.
In making his point, Ferguson highlights a study conducted recently by Economic Modeling Specialists International. EMSI completed an analysis of 41 occupations commonly reported as having a skills shortage and then used their own compatibility index (which is based on O*Net competency calculations) to identify and estimate the number of workers who would be willing and able to switch occupations into categories where there skills may be more highly valued than in their current positions. Where there appears to be an available and adequate pipeline of qualified workers, the EMSI analysis examines wage comparisons as well as other potential "opportunity costs" to understand the degree to which there are incentives for workers to cross occupational lines.
Essentially, EMSI is using this process to highlight situations where organizations could be overlooking "nearly perfect" candidates who possess many of the essential qualifications for a position. Examples noted include a technology company trying to hire technical writers who might also consider paralegals with exposure to technology subject matter -- or a healthcare organization needing to find medical assistants who might also consider pharmacy technicians as a viable candidate pool.
The EMSI study (of which I have provided only a cursory overview here) raises some interesting questions and possibilities for both recruiting and compensation. Through its analysis and findings, it prompts employers to consider supporting their recruiting efforts with deeper studies of the available labor markets in order to better understand the possibility and presence of alternate candidate pools -- and to also contemplate the pay and other types of incentives that might be necessary to attract candidates with compatible skills, so that appropriate reward strategies can be explored and put in place.
Seems to me to be an interesting opportunity for recruiting and compensation to put on their respective thinking caps and do a little collaborative problem solving. You?
Ann Bares is the Founder and Editor of the Compensation Café, Author of Compensation Force and Managing Partner of Altura Consulting Group LLC, where she provides compensation consulting to a wide range of client organizations. Ann was recently named President Elect of the Twin Cities Compensation Network (the most awesome local reward network on the planet) and has joined the Advisory Board of the Compensation & Benefits Review, the leading journal for those who design, implement, evaluate and communicate total rewards. She earned her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, is a bookhound and aspiring cook in her spare time. Follow her on Twitter at @annbares.
Creative Commons image "Converging Footsteps: My Father and Stepmother" by CarbonNYC