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Talent management strategies for the rolling talent deficit (part 1)

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As you probably know, the U.S. government operates with a staggering fiscal deficit. It’s projected that we will fall short by about $1.5 trillion this year. That amount of money is hard to imagine, and is largely ignored as we go about our daily lives.

But there’s one deficit that is starting to take its toll: the talent deficit. This is the number of jobs that go unfilled over a period of time due to a company’s inability to source and recruit the talent that it needs.


This deficit was created partially as a result of the Great Recession (and our reaction to it), and partially due to our aging workforce (and our reaction to that as well). Companies have scaled back, workers in many industries have started to think about retiring again (or already have), and each year several industries see a lack of graduates and younger workers with desirable skills and experience.

But it’s not just the current deficit that’s troubling. It’s the fact that like the U.S. fiscal deficit, the talent deficit has started rolling forward, faster and faster.

For example, where you had two openings, you now have four. And before you can fill those four openings, another person leaves or retires. Eventually, you can never hope to catch up. Left unchecked, it grows and compounds, weekly, monthly, and annually.

Another alarming factor is the toll that this rolling talent deficit takes on current employees. Longer hours, increased workload, and increased pressure means unhappy workers waiting for an opportunity to leave. We are at an unprecedented time in our history, and the pressure is mounting.

While there are no easy solutions, here are some immediate suggestions for helping to reduce your talent deficit:

Take stock of your skills. Know where you have a good supply of talent, and where you don’t. Forecast areas where you have demand but no supply and look for ways to focus resources on the most urgent areas.

Budget appropriately. For in-demand skills, expect to spend more time and effort on recruiting, whether it’s internal or external resources. Also, stay informed on labor trends and wages. For hard-to-find skills, you might need to be prepared to pay more in the short term while you shore up your long-term plans.

Look short-term, think long-term. Use temporary staffing or other immediate outsourcing measures to help stem the tide. Project your needs in the future and apply resources, or look for partners to increase candidate flow in specific areas. Look to search engine optimization, social networking, college recruiting, and other areas to start to develop new pipelines and sources.

As Dr. Peter Cappelli pointed out in both his recent keynote at the HRO Today Forum and in a Seamless Workforce interview, there’s no single right answer to forecasting your talent needs. However, you need to do some analysis and place your bets in a few key areas.

It seems evident to me that like the U.S. fiscal deficit, there’s no easy or quick way to end the talent deficit completely. The only way to manage it is to develop good, sound talent management strategies that reduce and minimize it.

But it will take leadership at the executive level and within human resources to get it done. Only with commitment and attention to it now, can we help stop the talent deficit from rolling forward and start to turn it back.



Matt Rivera has more than 20 years of experience in the staffing and workforce management industry. He has worked in virtually every aspect of the contingent labor process, from recruiting to sales, and most recently, in corporate marketing for Yoh. As director of customer solutions for Yoh, Matt helps develop innovative workforce solutions to help clients achieve maximum return and efficiencies from their use of flexible labor. Matt holds a degree in Journalism/Public Relations, and lives in the Pennsylvania suburbs with his wife and two children.ࠒead More of Matt's comments at .


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Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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