Skills Shortages, Noncompetitive Pay Cause Recruiting Woes in 2016

By Joseph Coombs Dec 2, 2016
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Robin Harpe, SHRM-SCP, is hunting for those elusive purple squirrels—the job seekers who have all the right skills, education and experience to fill positions for the industrial clients that her recruiting firm in Atlanta serves.

"Jobs are plentiful, but we still have two main issues," Harpe said. "Either the candidates aren't qualified, or they're qualified and they're willing to relocate but the companies aren't coming to the table with the right offers."

And so it has gone for many HR professionals in 2016. Job creation has been steady throughout the year, but skills shortages continue to pose problems, and some employers are perhaps still hesitant to raise compensation to levels that may be considered more favorable by job seekers.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Obtaining and Using Relevant Salary Survey Data]

Here are some observations about HR professionals' challenges, according to findings from talent acquisition-centered surveys published in 2016 from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM):

--Recruiting difficulty in the manufacturing and service sectors was lower in several months in 2016 compared with the previous year, according to SHRM's Leading Indicators of National Employment (LINE) report. However, this is not necessarily because companies opened up their wallets to snare job seekers. During nine months in 2016, fewer service organizations increased their new-hire compensation compared with the previous year, according to LINE.

--Of the 68 percent of organizations that reported difficulty hiring for full-time positions, half of HR professionals (50 percent) cited the fact that candidates do not have the needed work experience, according to The New Talent Landscape: Recruiting Difficulty and Skills Shortages, a SHRM survey from June. However, another 34 percent said their organization's salaries were not competitive for the market, and 23 percent said candidates rejected their compensation package.

--The vast majority of respondents to an October SHRM/Mercer survey on entry-level applicant job skills ranked dependability and reliability (97 percent), integrity (87 percent), and respect (84 percent) as qualities that were very or extremely important in entry-level job candidates.

--Nearly 3 out of 5 HR professionals (58 percent) had some level of faith in the labor market and expected job growth in the second half of 2016, according to SHRM's Jobs Outlook Survey. From that same survey, more than 4 out of 5 respondents (83 percent) had positive views of their organization's financial health (51 percent called it "good," and 32 percent classified it as "excellent").

--Although less than 3 out of 10 organizations (27 percent) were hiring for HR positions, a majority of HR professionals (88 percent) had some level of confidence that they could land a new position, if needed, according to SHRM's HR Jobs Pulse Survey for the summer of 2016.

--Compared with five years ago, more organizations are offering monetary bonus benefits such as employee referral bonuses, spot/bonus awards, sign-on bonuses for executives and nonexecutives, and retention bonuses for nonexecutives, according to SHRM's 2016 Employee Benefits survey released in June. Telecommuting benefits have seen a threefold increase over the past two decades, from 20 percent in 1996 to 60 percent in 2016, according to the survey.

--Nearly 9 out of 10 U.S. employees (88 percent) reported overall satisfaction with their current job, marking the highest level of satisfaction over the last decade, according to SHRM's 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement report, released in April. The leading job satisfaction contributors included respectful treatment of all employees at all levels, compensation/pay, benefits and job security.

--The average percentage of internally filled positions was 26 percent, according to results from Talent Acquisition: Recruitment and Selection, a SHRM report released in April. Government organizations are more likely to fill open positions with internal candidates than privately owned for-profit organizations, the survey found.

--Finally, looking to the future, HR professionals should be prepared to embrace more number-crunching when it comes to talent acquisition strategies. Nearly 3 out of 5 organizations (59 percent) expect to increase the number of positions requiring data analysis skills over the next five years, according to Jobs of the Future: Data Analysis Skills, a SHRM report released in November. The most common functional areas for data analysis positions are accounting and finance (71 percent), human resources (54 percent), and business and administration (50 percent), the survey determined.

Joseph Coombs is a senior analyst for workforce trends at SHRM.

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