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There is a New Equation for Supply and Demand in the Job Market Today

Have you taken a hard look at technology lately? It has really changed dramatically! In Florida, I met with a client who is from Switzerland and he was tucking his children in bed at night through an iPhone. It is absolutely amazing what we can accomplish with technology these days. The way we do business has completely changed in the twenty-first century. For example:

  • It used to be that you traded time for money and now you trade results for money. We used to put in long, hard twelve-hour days and now what companies want is 20% of your brainpower. 
  • It used to be that companies would hire, train and develop in their culture. Now speed is critical and they want experienced talent right away. 
  • It used to be that in order to build a network you had to have lunch, breakfast or coffee with potentials. The best you could do in any day was to meet two or three new individuals. Today social media can connect you to literally thousands of opportunities in cyberspace in a split second. 
  • It used to be that major corporate entities had the power to reach tens of thousands of people in one fell swoop. Now that power is in the hands of the individual.
  • · It used to be that talent was industry-specific. That’s not the case anymore. Talent is transferable across a wide spectrum of industries. 

If you are a baby boomer on the supply side of knowledge and experience, then you need to take a hard look at how this whole transaction has changed. Deloitte recently released a study called The Talent Paradox based on critical skills, recession and the illusion of plenitude. As they interviewed executives and business owners around the country they found a significant gap in the critical skills area of the market place. Given the high unemployment rate, it would seem that there shouldn’t be a shortage in skills. The shortages they describe include functional areas of executive leadership, operations, IT, strategy and planning. You would think there should be enough talent to go around, but according to Deloitte there is a “talent paradox.”

I tend to disagree with this theory. I don’t see a skills gap at all. I think the skills are out there. Instead, I believe what we have is a talent acquisition gap. The supply side of those critical skills is not matching up with the demand side of corporate desires. So much like the evolution of technology, we are also experiencing an evolution of talent acquisition. Take a look at the skills they have focused on in this study: executive leadership, operations management, strategy, and planning. 

These are jobs that require a tremendous amount of experience. These valuable skills cannot be learned from a book – obviously, there are academics behind it, but you have to have the experience. My point is that it’s not as if the experience isn’t out there when there are millions of people who are unemployed. What has changed is that organizations are looking to acquire talent differently than the supply side of that equation is looking to market their services. Right now businesses are not looking to increase payroll expenses. Businesses want to remain flexible, which means they have a really difficult time hiring thirty years of experience on a full-time basis. Employers are looking at talent acquisition from a dramatically new angle and instead are bringing in that valuable experience on a per-project basis.

The other part of this equation is that not only has the recession made employers gun shy to add long term dollars to their payroll, the recession has also forced them to shrink their payroll budgets. Now they need to find ways to do more with less and limit the number of employees, which forces them to put many strategic initiatives on hold. 

This is why, I believe, Deloitte is finding a gap in executive leadership, operations management, strategy, and planning because those folks have not been on the corporate payrolls throughout the recession. If they were, their talents were funneled into other more time-sensitive initiatives. Where planning is a long-term opportunity to look into the future and around corners, these folks were given tasks that needed to be accomplished right away. The talent may have been there, but it was targeted towards other things. I think the recession has made employers gun shy to make long-term payroll commitments and has forced them to put strategic initiatives on hold. So there is this – it’s not a skills gap. The skills are there. It’s simply a mismatch when looking at the supply and demand equation.

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