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The monthly jobs report came out today, with a paltry 80,000 jobs added in June keeping the U.S. unemployment rate at a steady 8.2%.  Sources site factors ranging from the European debt crisis to the federal government’s own lack of creating jobs (they actually accounted for 7,000 job cuts in June and no job creation since March of 2011.)

While the jobs forecast continues to look gloomy, another article came out yesterday that could spread hope, if only the companies with jobs could work more strategically to fill their positions.

The article from USA Today, stated, “Despite the 8.2 percent unemployment rate , many businesses have struggled to find qualified candidates for an abundance of high-skill jobs in technology, engineering, health care, and other fields,” and that a survey from Beyond.com backs the view that poor communication often prevents human resource officials from identifying viable candidates.

So what’s uplifting about poor communication preventing HR from identifying viable candidates?  It’s something organizations have direct control over and can change for the better.

Perhaps as HR professionals and hiring managers, we can help the unemployment issue ever so slightly by removing some of the barriers and obstacles that are preventing some organizations from filling jobs with viable talent.

The USA Today article goes on to cite some of the areas of concern highlighted by the Beyond.com study, including: job descriptions that are too vague or too specific, HR ruling out qualified applicants due to lack of understanding of hiring managers wants and needs, recruiters missing nuances and not focused on the bigger picture, employers performing overly specific keyword searches that screen out high-quality candidates, and heavy layoffs in HR departments leaving recruiters overworked and less in tune with employers.

While a genuine skills gap is still to blame for much of the divide in filling positions, employers also hold some of the blame in having become overly selective since the recession.

When the massive layoffs of the recession originally hit, it was okay to be more selective since the job market temporarily allowed for it with a mass of skilled workers hitting the job search.  Organizations could snatch up sought after talent and for less pay in many cases.

But, as time has gone on, with more people out of the workforce longer, have many companies become too selective, turning their heads away from the long term unemployed because of old internal biases and creating a needle in the haystack effect with even more demands on job requirements because they got spoiled with the influx of talent available and needed more ways to narrow the field?

Have many companies also turned away from tried and true tactics such as hiring for fit and training for skills, due to lack of resources to bring new talent up to speed, forgetting in their justification, the amount of money they lose in turn each day a position goes unfilled?

Is it just the easy way out to say that there is a skills gap and throw up our hands rather than creating solutions that can create jobs?    Didn’t we all have a skills gap at some point in our career from what we’re doing in the present from where we were in the past?

I’m sure many people in a job search would be willing to step up to the challenge to bridge the gap between the skills they have and what’s required, and certainly some of the skills they already bring to the table might benefit in ways an organization may not have pictured yet.

Additionally, with so many graduates coming into the workforce unemployed or underemployed, why aren’t more employers working to partner directly with educational institutions to fill their employment needs and having schools train for the skills they require?

What can you do as an HR professional, business person, hiring manager, or job candidate to help break down the communication barriers to get the right people in the right jobs?

Everyone is waiting for someone else to fix the problem, but someone is looking each of us in the mirror.  We all have the power to provoke change, no matter how small.

As Mother Teresa stated, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

What can you do to create a ripple today, tomorrow?

Can you help build a new job training initiative in your workplace or start an internship program to provide training to others?
Can you try to be a better communicator about your organizations needs and break down a job description so that a recruiter can see the bigger picture of your needs?
Job seekers can you put together a 90-day action plan for an employer on how you might obtain the necessary skills they require to fill their needs instead of turning away in defeat?
Or no matter who you are, can you provide a word of encouragement to help lighten someone else’s load?

If we can all be a little more creative, together we can help shrink the unemployment numbers and get more people back to work.  It may be small changes, but every little bit helps.  And with each job, we are not only helping the person employed, we are helping the bigger picture of building the economy back up, one tiny piece at a time.

Sources

Davidson, Paul. HR Staffs, Recruiters Overlook Qualified Job Seekers. USA Today. July 5th, 2012.
Rugaber, Christoper. US employers add 80,000 jobs as economy struggles. The Associated Press. July 6th, 2012.
Economic News Release, Employment Situation Summary. Bureau of Labor Statistics. United States Department of Labor. July 6, 2012.

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