Tackling the talent crunch in 2021

Written by
RMI Team (F)

Finding the right talent is a common challenge for hiring managers at the best of times, especially in knowledge-intensive sectors like finance and technology. In Singapore, a recent survey on how COVID-19 has impacted 2020 hiring trends found that most employers expect to face a talent crunch in the year ahead. 

Among their top reasons HR executives expect to face talent challenges in 2021 are:  

  • A lack of candidates with the necessary work experience, skills and knowledge. 
  • Increased competition from other employers. 
  • Difficulty finding candidates with the right culture fit.

These concerns are further exacerbated by most companies reducing their hiring budgets, and a global shortage of niche specialists in certain fields such as data science, cybersecurity and software development.  

So what can HR professionals do to tackle the talent crunch, both short and long term? Here are six hiring tips for HR leaders to consider to overcome the talent crunch in the year ahead:

1. Hire talent internally 

Internal recruitment is an excellent strategy for filling the talent gap, and can save the company time and money while boosting internal morale and productivity. Hiring managers should consider upskilling or training existing staff where viableand there are plenty of government-supported upskilling programmes right now that companies can tap onto. 

Building an internal talent pipeline should also be a key strategy to mitigating talent crunch in the longer term. Establishing internal opportunities and grooming talented employees to move into higher positions as they become available facilitates succession planning, while having a roadmap for internal progression during the hiring stage also builds proactive hiring practices informed by future business strategies, and reduces reactive hiring based on market forces.

2. Tap into referrals 

Companies already have an amazing resource for hiring talent – their existing employees. According to Forbes, referrals are a source of superior candidates for 88% of employers and referred candidates are generally a better culture fit, have higher retention rates and generate a better return on investment compared to hires from other sources.  

Referred employees in turn tend to refer others, creating a virtuous cycle and easing talent crunches by ensuring that hiring managers have a steady pool from which to source first-class candidates.  This is probably why referrals have even been termed the Holy Grail of recruiting. 

3. Nurture relationships with key talent communities  

These include local or regional think tanks, and institutions of higher learning. Think tanks are generally a great place to recruit innovative and tech talents, while universities can be a valuable source for identifying promising talents early through internships or fresh grad hires, and building a strong university campus recruitment strategy will boost your company’s reputation amongst students. In some cases, quality recruitment agencies can also be a valuable resource for niche talent communities. 

Even when not actively hiring, HR managers and in-house recruiters should consider building these relationships as part of their long-term sourcing strategy. Just keep in mind that the most rewarding relationships should always be mutually beneficial, so consider how your company can add value to these communities as well.  

4. Strengthen your employer branding 

Because employer branding and company culture go hand in hand, having a great company culture is like having an “inbound” marketing strategy for recruitment – the happier your current employees are, the easier it will be for you to attract new, high-quality talent. In our article addressing The Future of Remote Work: What Employees Want, we found that employees care deeply about transparency and authenticity, especially post-COVID-19. Focusing on building a strong company culture and establishing a desirable employer brand is key to long-term reduction in talent crunches 

5. Harness the power of social media  

If conventional channels like job portals and recruitment agencies aren’t getting you the right talent fast enough, you should consider social recruiting. Hiring through social media widens your reach and increases the visibility of your job posts, thereby increasing your chances of finding the right talent. According to a study by LinkedIn, social media is a great way to connect with passive job seekers – those who aren’t actively job seeking but are open to new career opportunities – which widens your pool of potential candidates. Social media was also cited as one of the most effective employer branding tools, second only to the company website.  

6. Consider diversity  

Not just diversity in demographics like gender and race, but in terms of working arrangements. COVID-19 has compelled many companies to transition their employees to remote work – the success of which should prompt recruiters and HR managers to reconsider how they want to shape their future workforce. If full-time employees are unavailable, consider telecommuters, temporary contractors, consultants, gig workers, or even retired executives who would be open to part-time hours. 

In summary, the pandemic has shown us that we are capable of adapting to new ways of working, and as the job market continually evolves and market conditions change, it only makes sense these hiring tips also adapt accordingly. The same strategies used over the past years may no longer apply in the new world. It is the perfect time for hiring managers to review, revamp, and get creative in order to tackle the talent crunch.