If you’ve asked any hiring or HR manager over the last couple of years why any given job posting is open for an extended amount of time, you’ve surely received this answer by now:

“There’s a Talent Shortage…”

With an unprecedented unemployment low, this buzz phrase is believable and in some cases accurate. But with an increasing frequency, I’m seeing indicators that in many lines of work, the Talent Shortage may not actually be a real thing.

Where is it real?

There are few areas of industry that truly do not have enough professionally trained graduates:

In the United States, engineering careers have lost their prestige. In Latin American and Eastern countries, by contrast, once you’ve earned an engineering degree, you’ve also earned a title (“Engineer Smith”, e.g.) and a place in the upper class.

If we could reposition this field along with the healthcare field to get more young people excited about being a part of the most potentially innovative, intelligent, well-paid, and overall helpful parts of our society, our society overall would greatly improve and benefit.

Where is it an illusion?

I believe it’s an illusion in an abundance of job types from non-skilled labor, customer service and administrative work, among mid to senior management levels and technical and skilled professionals.

There are 4 things I see alerting me to the illusion of a talent shortage in these areas of employment. They are:

  1. An abundance of available low-paying jobs with little to no benefits.
  2. A scarceness of high-paying, stable job with good benefits.
  3. Numerous well-qualified individuals desiring positions and not being able to find something suitable (meaning they aren’t grossly overqualified or out of salary range).
  4. An excessive amount of job postings which require overly specific backgrounds and employer unwillingness in many cases, to train otherwise qualified applicants.

The Cost of Living Consideration

As for the very first issue I’ve listed – an abundance in low-paying jobs with little to no benefits – you would think this would be obvious.

While the minimum wage has increased it still isn’t enough for a person to work one job and cover living expenses independently. There are still many companies that offer wages that haven’t been suitable since 2002.

This is even the case for some skilled professionals like teachers, mechanical engineers, entry to mid-level architects, and other professions that require a lot of certification and training. They may not be paid at minimum wage per se, but often still aren’t able to get by on one salary alone.

How can we think, in these cases, that there’s a talent shortage?

If employers won’t pay well enough to attract and keep employees, that doesn’t mean there’s a talent shortage. It means their budget does not allow them to hire the kind of talent they need.

They talent is there, but it requires money.

Lots of jobs available. But would you want any of them?

Jump onto the job board of any major company right now. It won’t be hard to see, but many of the openings posted, if not the vast majority, will land the employed person in the situation mentioned above.

And yes, I mean that situation where they’ll be working really hard but won’t be able to pay their bills.

I’m not saying that every one of those openings would be filled if salaries were bought in line with today’s cost of living considering higher than ever rent prices on gas, childcare, and food – the bare minimum. But a lot more of those positions would get filled and stay filled if people could stop living paycheck to paycheck with the salaries they get paid from them.

As a society, we’re fast to jump to conclusions, or say people don’t want to work and are lazy, or even blame millenials. While some of the observations might be true, have we put ourselves in the shoes of people that are underpaid and underappreciated?

Hiring managers, business owners, and other types of leaders are responsible for motivating people that work for them. If they have not gotten people excited about being on their teams, they have also been lazy about doing their jobs.

Close Minded-Hiring

Not every hiring manager that refuses to hire someone unless they match their exact wish list is self righteous or unrealistic.

However, if you’ve been searching for ANYTHING for an extended period of time and just can’t seem to find it how you imagined it:

Within your budget, with all of the prerequisites met —

–you might start asking if what you’re looking for is out of your league, or if it exists at all.

What do you think?

I’m not saying to just hire just anyone, but two things that can help the situation are open-mindedness while hiring and willingness to train and develop talented, eager candidates rather than bypassing them.

Do you agree or disagree with what I’ve said in this post? Why so, or why not? Do you have any ideas on how we can balance out the “talent shortage” and get more people into jobs they actually love? Please let me know in the comments, like and share!