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Talent scarcity is a myth. Here’s why

“Recruiting is getting tougher. It appears the pool of available talent is shrinking. But what if it’s not?”

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Posted On APR 24, 2023 

‘No one wants to work!’ We’ve all heard the news.


Employees are quiet quitting. The Great Resignation is raging. If you listen carefully, you may hear sighs of resignation from employers as they struggle to recruit from what feels like a fast-dwindling pool of talent. Business leaders cite low volumes of responses to job ads and a lack of quality among the candidates who do apply as the main hiring challenges they face.


The issue might not be a scarcity of talent at all, however. It could just be that many employers and recruiters have a narrow searchlight. In fact, there are vast pools of untapped talent out there, ready and waiting for employers who are prepared to cast their nets a little wider.


Great expectations


If these untapped pools really are the answer to a lot of today’s recruitment challenges, then why do they remain untapped?


In a recent survey, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identified several often-overlooked groups of potential employees. They include older people, people with a criminal record and military spouses, among others. Each of these groups comes with its own stereotypes: prejudices that can act as easy filters during the recruitment process. These biases can be ingrained in human recruiters, or they might come from recruitment tech.


By taking a closer look at two of these groups, we can see that ditching negative expectations could resolve many of today’s recruitment challenges.


Older people


In the US, the number of people over 65 is increasing faster than any other age cohort. And across the pond, lifetime allowance limits on pension schemes will be lifted for under 75s from April to encourage older workers back into the labor market. But two thirds of employers believe hiring older people makes their business less competitive. Older workers, the stereotype goes, are less capable than their younger colleagues, less open to change and less willing to roll up their sleeves.


But as is usually the case, it’s only the stereotypes that are lazy. In its survey, SHRM asked HR managers and business leaders what happened when they did hire from overlooked groups. More than 25% said their older employees regularly outperformed their colleagues, while a further 67% said there was no difference between the two groups. Older workers were described by those surveyed as having a strong work ethic allied to a lifetime’s worth of useful knowledge and experience.


Military spouses


In the US, the unemployment rate among military spouses is four to six times the national average. What’s worse, 63% of military spouses say they are underemployed meaning they aren’t working as much as they would like to or aren’t using their skills properly. In fact, 39% are so discouraged by their prospects in the world of work that they have discussed with their partner the idea of them leaving active service. Their relatively absence from the labor market is estimated to cost the US economy around $1 billion per year.


So why are employers so reluctant to give military spouses a fair shake? First, there is the moving. Military spouses tend to relocate with their serving partners every few years which means chances of a long-term career with the company could be slim. Then, there is the ‘spotty’ resume problem. Military spouses can lack continuity in their resumes which feature gaps in employment and many jumps from one industry to another.


However, both of these points can be strengths. Employers who look beyond the label and focus on overall skill sets will see military spouses as great candidates. Let alone the fact they are fast learners and hugely adept at soft skills, military spouses are strong problem solvers and relationship builders. They are nimble, resilient and adaptable.


The list of untapped talent doesn’t stop there. It includes others like:


  • Caregivers
  • Retired athletes
  • People with disabilities
  • People with a criminal record
  • ‘Opportunity youth’ – young people disengaged from education or work.


But perhaps these labels are themselves part of the issue. A key question to ask ourselves is whether we are hiring talent with skills and capabilities or labelled talent.


If employers prioritize talent over labels- looking at skills and potential above anything else– they will be left with not just pools of untapped talent, but an ocean. From veterans, military spouses, retired athletes to people with disabilities, LHH prides itself in helping organizations diversify and expand their talent pool.


Get in touch with an LHH career expert today.