The Talent Mismatch – What To Do

Today an article concerning the The Talent Mismatch appeared in the Columbus Dispatch. I offered some thoughts in the article, which deals with the phenomenon of relatively high unemployment coupled with an inability of employers to find suitable talent.  I posted the link on my Facebook page, and received a number of comments and questions.  These include:

  • “Why won’t companies train?”
  • “Companies are way too picky in what they are asking for, and therefore can’t hire anyone that fits the description”
  • “Companies won’t take a chance so I am starting my own business”

The Employer

Let’s give some thought as to how and why this happens, particularly with larger companies.  It is not generally by design or intent, but more by organizational roles and dynamics, and a lack of strategic vision for talent acquisition.

The ability to acquire the right talent at the right time is an increasingly strategic differentiator for companies, and one that few have figured out. A typical large company has a division of labor and workflow that lends itself to solving pieces of the talent mismatch but not the complete challenge.

For example, the Hiring Manager is judged on their ability to get things done. They need a person to be productive quickly and hence looks for the perfect candidate.  The Corporate Recruiter, on the other hand, is judged on number of hires they get a month.  The Corporate Recruiter is typically working on 40 to 50 openings at a time, and so the Corporate Recruiter will direct their efforts towards the candidates that are easiest to hire and openings that are easiest to fill.  If the concept of training people comes up, that involves a Corporate Trainer with their own set of priorities.

The net is the overall talent mismatch challenge is never really examined and addressed.

During past recessions, it was feasible to find and hire the “ideal” candidate that met the laundry list of, say, 12 technical skills and five years of specific experience. With the recovery that began late 2011, these “ideal” candidates have found new positions and are no longer on the market.  The candidates on the market tday maybe are 70% fit. But the Hiring Manager is still faced with getting projects done so they continue looking for the “ideal fit” rather than the “teachable fit” as their organizations are not equipped to accommodate the “teachable fit”.

Few companies are taking a look at this, and even fewer are taking action. Those that figure it out will win.

The Employee / Candidate

At the same time, it is not just the employer that has challenges. From the Employee / Candidate perspective, we need to think of the implications of the “talent mismatch”. I believe we can agree that the days are gone where job requirements and workplace demands stay relatively stable, and the economy and industry allow the job to remain relatively secure.

Given this, why should we feel that it is a company’s responsibility to train and educate prospective talent?  In fact,  it is our personal responsibility to be lifelong learners, adapt, and position ourselves for tomorrow’s world of work .

What does this mean for the Employee / Candidate?  Here are some thoughts:

  • Acknowledge the pace of change in the world of work. We don’t have to like it, but we do need to acknowledge it. What we are seeing today are industry sectors, product lines, and related jobs that arise and decline in short periods, maybe as short as 10 years.  The pace of change across industries are unprecedented.
  • Seek and develop a basic understanding of your industry, company, and job from the perspective of how changes in the economy might impact your world of work. Is the industry growing or shrinking?  What products / services are competing with your industry? How is it changing?  What is your  company doing to deal with this?  How might it impact your job and profession?
  • Personal and professional development is key.  Whether it be something as simple as exercising or reading professional / business books, or formal training and development, with every bit of acquired knowledge and capability comes benefit.  Even if not directly applied, you add a tool to your toolkit that allows you to do more than you could before.  I’ve tracked this by creating a career tracking and assessment summary that relates job, compensation, and personal development activities.  I find that successful people share a common habit of continual self development.
  • Networking and personal branding play into it.  We all owe it to ourselves to be continually talking to others to understand what is happening in the world around us so we can take advantage of opportunities and trends as they arise.


Resolving the talent mismatch will take institutional effort on the part of industries and organizations, and personal investment on the part of individuals.  It is not an easy path for organizations, but as individuals we can certainly make a difference in our own professional lives.