Main image of article Trying to Undo the Skills Mismatch Problem

When Steve Boese (@SteveBoese), Director of Talent Management Strategy at Oracle, wants a debate on his podcast, HR Happy Hour, he often leans on the controversial subject of talent shortages and skills mismatched with talent. It’s an all-too-common problem in recruiting, explains Boese:

  • On one hand, you have companies that want to find great people with specific skills and move them in quickly.
  • On the other hand, you have talented people who have lost jobs by no fault of their own, and who would be valuable hires, but who don’t meet specific criteria or experience level that a company is looking for.

Companies are holding tight to rigid job descriptions and as a result, they’re having a hard time filling the jobs. The mismatched skills dilemma results in an impasse where a lot of jobs go unfilled for a long time – while at the same time, a lot of talented people are without jobs, explains Boese. “If we continue to search for those exact matches, those perfect fits, I think we’re going to be frustrated when we can’t find them, or if we can find them, everyone else wants them to, and now we’re in a bidding war or we can’t afford them,” he warns. Sometimes the requirements are unreasonable, such as wanting five years experience for a programming language that’s only been around for three years or having a huge list of criteria for a job that’s supposed to be “entry-level.” Possible solutions to skills mismatch Boese suggests that there may be ways to look at job candidates more broadly. For example, have they shown experience in the past with something similar to what a company is looking for? If so, then they can probably adapt their skills for future success. Candidates that don’t fit the job requirements can make themselves more attractive by showing that they have a capacity to learn, that they have picked up skills and languages over time, and that haven’t stayed in the same place for their entire career. If candidates can demonstrate that capability, they’ll have a better chance convincing a recruiter or a hiring manager to consider them.