Bridge Insights

Stop Calling it a Skills Shortage. It’s a Talent Reassessment!

Aug 24, 2021

By now, the term “talent shortage” has become a battle cry. When those dreaded words drop, people take up (metaphorical) arms, ready to defend their stance until these economic tides have turned.

As I scroll through my feed, I see rhetorical bullets whiz past my eyes:

  • “There is no talent shortage. Your company has a salary shortage.”
  • “Job seekers simply don’t want to go back to work.”
  • “Things will return to normal once Federal subsidies run out.”

I’ll watch comment sections explode with sentiments like, “Hiring leaders are out of touch,” or “Making the accommodations job seekers want is unrealistic; my business can’t afford this.” And then, inevitably, someone always drops the MOAB: Company Culture.

While these verbal volleys fly back and forth, I watch these workplace warriors talk past each other. I also notice something else: Every single one of them is missing the point.

[blockquotes color=”accent” quote=”no”]Where you may see a decrease in direct experience from your incoming applications, you’ll see an increase in motivation, passion, and enthusiasm from job seekers. [/blockquotes]

A Crash Course in Frictional Unemployment

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Recently you may have seen terms pop up like, “reallocation friction”, “sectoral shock” or even “The Great Resignation”. All of this is just a fancy way to say there is an imbalance between the supply of job-seeker skills and the employment demands of businesses.

This can either be caused by too many qualified professionals not being able to find work (think college grads or job seekers wanting to change career paths) or companies that are unable to fill its open positions (think 2021).

Where Did All the Good People Go?

The short answer: They’re there. But your hiring strategy might be structured to look for people in all the wrong places.

People looking to make a career change is nothing new. The reason this phenomenon is now bordering on a hiring crisis is that economists and HR professionals believe this number is around 52% of the talent pool.

And here’s why:

Being a human on earth right now is tough. The events of the past 18 months have given people the time and motivation to reevaluate their lives and think about what they want to achieve with their limited time on earth. For many, this introspection has led them to realize they aren’t fulfilled by what they do professionally.

Life is short and no one wants to spend time doing things they don’t like doing.

For these individuals, it doesn’t matter how much you incentivize them or how strong their direct customer service or loan processing experience is. If they don’t want to do those jobs anymore, they aren’t going to apply to them.

In sales terms: You’re pitching to the wrong audience. You might as well be selling hot dogs at a vegetarian convention.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every job seeker. Furthermore, not every professional will successfully make that career change. There is, however, one other factor job seekers have on their side right now: time –and they’re taking that time to try to get hired for the jobs they want, not the jobs they need.

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What Does This Mean for Employers?

If your business needs to fill openings immediately, trying to engage people who inherently think of your positions as their Plan B is a tough sell for you for a few reasons. It can lead to:

  • Lower application numbers
  • High drop-off rates throughout your hiring funnel
  • Increased time to hire
  • Lower morale among HR and TA team members

If you do hire someone using an outdated strategy, and they are biding their time, you open your business up to:


But don’t become discouraged. For every job seeker who is looking to move out of your industry, someone is looking to break in. Don’t be surprised if your job postings see an influx of applicants who don’t immediately look like a match for your job openings.

To reflect today’s market your sourcing strategy may take on some new tactics. Many job seekers are looking to make lateral moves; their resume might showcase their soft skills from their past experiences. It’s important for hiring managers to be able to read resumes for the core soft skills of top performers in your industry.

Innovative Interviewing

In the interview room, ensure you are screening for qualities prospective hires that truly move the needle forward. Try to keep an open mind and put yourself in the job seeker’s shoes. When it’s a candidate’s market –and for top performers, it’s always a candidate’s market –it’s important to ask, “Why would a top performer want to work for my business/want this position?”

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Hearing, “I Accept”

When you’re feeling the pressure of a hiring crisis, it makes sense that you would want to target people with previous direct experience in your roles. Today’s market aside, there have always been certain cons that come along with hiring someone in this way. When you factor in the backdrop of navigating the world today, using this hiring strategy becomes a bit more precarious.

When you hire someone with “plug-and-play” experience, in addition to breaking old habits and needing to train up your new hire on your business’ unique processes and company culture, they may be looking at your organization as a weigh station more than a place they can grow with. While it may take more training to get these “reallocated candidates” up to speed, they are most likely motivated to perform well because they are trying to find their footing on uncharted land.


While the pandemic may have you feeling like you’re sidesaddled with sub-par applicants, you’re not. It’s simply that today’s market and the high volume of talent looking to make a career move are changing what top talent looks like. Because this great reassessment is caused by job seekers pressing pause and rethinking their priorities, it’s only logical that businesses reassess their positions and how they source, too.

While it can be disheartening to see a decrease in direct experience from your incoming applications, the tradeoff is an increase in motivation, passion, and enthusiasm from job seekers looking to realize their professional goals as the newest members of your team. For businesses who are willing to adapt their hiring strategy to the changing economic tides, they are sure to find that today’s staffing crisis looks much more like a hiring renaissance.