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Suffering from a Talent Shortage? Create Your Own Talent

Suffering from a Talent Shortage? Create Your Own Talent
Being an Organisational Psychologist, I can’t help but observe people’s behaviour in the workplace. Fortunately for my colleagues, the source of the behaviours I observe isn’t limited to the people in the office where I work. I also have the opportunity to observe the trends in the behaviours of the people in businesses across the country, including how those businesses measure success in the workplace, what they want from their employees, and how they go about selecting new employees.

Two key trends I have seen are:

  • The perceived talent shortage – there is an apparent lack of capable people in the market to fill the jobs required for businesses to be competitive.
  • Businesses seem to be recruiting on the basis of skills, experience, and knowledge of the industry. The emphasis is on a suitable background over and above the potential of the candidate to succeed in the role.

There is an understandable relationship between these two trends; if there is a perceived lack of talent in the market, finding people with proven experience in a specific area appears even more crucial. However, this works the other way too; as if you exclusively seek out people with proven experience, the talent pool will only continue to dry up.

Now, more than ever, there is a great opportunity in this market for businesses who focus on the potential value of a candidate. The potential of an individual refers to that ‘untapped’ capability that perhaps both the individual themselves and the business are unaware is lying dormant. These capabilities include:

  • Cognitive abilities: The candidate may have the ability to acquire new knowledge and skills rapidly. They may be able to think critically and logically, enabling them to solve complex problems on the job. They may be capable of thinking laterally and seeing trends in information that others don’t readily see.
  • Behavioural strengths: The candidate may have the attitudes and behaviours required for the role even though they do not have the exact experience required. There might be a gap in their exposure to certain aspects of the position, or perhaps they have worked in a different industry to the business. This doesn’t mean that the candidate can’t achieve success in the job. In reality, the individual could have the attitude and behavioural capabilities that are well suited to success in the position.

Unveiling the untapped potential

There are robust and effective ways to measure an individual’s capability to fulfil a job. The traditional method is a structured behavioural interview, where the aim is to understand more about the behaviours that the individual has demonstrated in previous roles. However, while this gives you a great insight into past behaviours (which, to be fair, are the best possible predictor of future ones), what happens if the person hasn’t had the opportunity to exhibit certain capabilities in their role yet?

Where behavioural interviews are limited by the interviewee’s previous experience, cognitive ability assessments, work styles profiles, and personality questionnaires can unveil that untapped potential that a candidate may have squirreled away. These assessments can help businesses understand if the person can, for example, learn quickly, if they can think on their feet when solving problems, and whether they can take a self-reliant approach to their own development. Perhaps the role you’re recruiting for requires strong project skills or excellent relationship building capability; these assessments are the tools you can use to find out if a candidate has a natural leaning towards these areas.

All it takes is the willingness of businesses to see beyond the experience of the individual into the potential of the person.

The talent short market would then be a talent potential market. Businesses could create their own talent by investing a little in training and developing new employees who have the cognitive abilities and behavioural capabilities required for success.

Now that would be a great thing to observe.
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