Companies across the globe are experiencing major hiring challenges. Talent is getting harder to come by, particularly in the tech sector where there were 3.6 million U.S. job postings for tech jobs in 2021. The pandemic contributed to this surge — organizations that switched to remote work to stay afloat came to rely on information technology (IT) services such as automation. Suddenly, the local gym had to offer virtual classes and restaurants had to switch to online orders, and they needed the help of technology providers to manage these business shifts. The pandemic may have slowed down, but human resources (HR) managers are still catching up as they struggle to find qualified candidates in a cutthroat job market.

Corporations need to get creative to compete, from partnering with universities and hosting monthly job fairs to launching training programs and building career pathways to promote from within.

Address Skills Gaps and Worker Shortages

Good talent is hard to find. Some employees don’t possess the necessary skills to succeed in the workplace, whether it’s a lack of knowledge needed to do their jobs, or the essential soft skills required for collaboration among teams. One strategy to address this shortfall is to partner with local universities to create a workforce pipeline. Universities are turning to industry to offer guidance on what should be included in the curriculum, asking questions like, “What are the must-have skill sets students need once they graduate to perform their job well?” Various organizations are offering their c-suite to sit on college advisory boards and even act as guest lecturers to convey those proficiencies, which include the equally crucial soft skills of interpersonal communication and problem solving, among others.

The goal of industry and academic collaboration is to train students so when they graduate there is less of a learning curve once on the job. Another shift that is happening is the move away from internships and a focus instead on apprenticeships. An internship is (paid or unpaid) work that won’t necessarily result in a full-time job. An apprenticeship, on the other hand, is (always) paid and leads to full-time employment. It gives the apprentice an opportunity to learn the job while earning pay for their training. It’s a win-win — students get paid to learn while companies train future employees and build loyalty while doing so.

University partnerships can also be leveraged to host hiring fairs, both onsite and at the organizations, so that prospects can get a feel for corporate culture. It’s very critical that potential candidates align with a corporation’s way of doing business and its values.

Implement Training and Mentorship Programs To Grow Talent Internally

Once talent has been identified, long-term employee development needs to be part of the equation to ensure retention. “Grow your own” initiatives help new hires on their professional journeys through training, educational programs, mentorship and leadership development. Regardless of a person’s career pathway —  sales, customer support, research and development, finance or administrative — these types of learning programs encourage employees to become invested in an organization knowing that they have opportunities for professional growth. It also allows companies to promote from within and reward the personnel that they have invested in.

Mentorship programs also need to be part of a workforce development strategy. Companies can offer employees online courses via online educational platforms. Monthly chats with the chief executive officer, or another member of the executive team, can also keep up-and-coming employees engaged and motivated to stay with an organization.

Build Out Pathways for Career Changers

Sometimes, companies opt for hiring people who may lack technical expertise but possess great soft skills. The organization may realize that it’s a good investment as most “hard” skills can be taught. Likewise, sometimes hires for certain roles may not work out, but the company still wants to retain specific employees. It’s important to have pathways in place for these career changers. Someone may have been hired for a sales position, only to realize it’s not a good fit for their personality or professional goals. However, that person may be well suited for a customer support or finance role. Cross training promising hires for other positions may be the way to retain talent.

Align Candidates With Company Culture

One of the most significant, yet often overlooked indicators of success is ensuring potential hires buy into a company’s ethos. Recruiters can help identify candidates who are aligned with an organization’s values. Companies need to be clear on who they are: For example, do they promote a work hard, play hard vibe, or are they more laid back and easygoing? Being transparent about what the organization stands for will ensure the right people are hired so both employees and employers are focused on mutual long-term success.

While hiring challenges may be an ongoing issue, companies can do their part to create internal career pathways with learning and development (L&D) to grow their own talent. Most employees want to work for a company that promotes from within and supports their growth for the long haul. For mutual success, organizations need to be transparent on their company’s culture to attract, and retain, top-notch talent.