Five Tips to Winning the Future Talent War

As the economy recovers, seismic workforce changes are looming that will intensify the competition for labor.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the unemployment rate for May 2010 stood at 9.7%. At a time when the unemployment rate is so high, imagining a scenario of having too few workers could be difficult. However, a seismic workforce change is looming and will get underway in the next few years. Millions of baby boomers will be retiring and far fewer new employees will arrive in the workforce.

While shortages already have begun to appear in certain areas of expertise — including engineering, software programming and business development within the material handling and logistics industry — most enterprises have failed to plan for the projected worker shortage. Now is the time for your company to put a plan in place.

Here are five suggestions to help hiring managers win the future talent war:

  1. Hire with long-term business objectives in mind.

    Don't just hire for current company needs, but look toward future growth and know what you need in a candidate. A sound hiring system includes an outline of required competencies (i.e., skills, motivations, behaviors, etc.) for the current job as well as a future career track. Unless you define these competencies, it's easy to make poor hiring decisions.

  2. Have realistic expectations for candidates.

    Don't be afraid to aim high, but be realistic as to the type of candidate your company is able to attract and retain. Every company wants the “A” player but it takes an “A” company to capture and keep their attention. In addition, don't create an unrealistic job description that no one could possibly fill.

  3. Review and revise employee retention policies.

    To retain top talent, take time now to focus on such things as flexible work schedules, training and career development opportunities, attractive and consistent wages and rewards, full benefit plans, recognition of accomplishments, etc.

  4. Determine what sets your company apart and market it.

    Recruiting and retaining top talent becomes easier when your company is known as THE place to work. Identify the reasons why a star player would choose to work at your firm and then aggressively spread the word.

  5. Don't count out the seasoned worker.

    Consider setting up tailored programs for older workers in order to retain their experience and skill. Take into account a phased retirement program, job sharing, part-time and consulting work.

Companies can no longer afford to be short-sighted and only concerned with short-term results. To stay viable and competitive, now is the time to think about what your workforce will look like five years from now.

Dan Charney is managing partner with Direct Recruiters Inc., a Cleveland, Ohio-based search firm for companies in automated packaging and material handling systems.

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