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Why now is the time to strengthen your workforce

As senior executives draft staffing plans for 2021, many are budgeting to address skills gaps and the need for other competencies that can help them navigate the path to recovery and well beyond. Here’s a look at the current employment market and the trends that are driving most of the hiring.

Technology’s Heavy Influence on Hiring

The skills gaps companies are facing and most of the new jobs being created require technology expertise. Regardless of industry, major initiatives involving technology will likely be a key piece of your roadmap to stability and growth. We are seeing this trend play out most clearly in, but not limited to, the finance, healthcare, and transportation sectors. Consider, for example, the growing adoption of contactless mobile payments, telehealth, and autonomous vehicles.

Organizations are seeking talent who can help them jump-start or strengthen efforts to digitize their operations and customer outreach, which has them actively seeking talent with specialized skills in areas such as data science and advanced analytics. They are also analyzing the composition of their workforce to decide whether some roles should be added or redesigned based on this push. The question is whether organizations are realistically assessing the availability of, and the competition for, the talent they’ll need.

Expanded Labor Pool, but Shrinking Supply of Top Talent

Many executives believe they’ll have their pick of great talent because of recent unemployment numbers, but you may be making a grave miscalculation. The opportunities for finding the caliber of expertise you’ll want are quickly narrowing. With year-end initiatives in full swing, your competition is looking to recruit these same professionals. You must act before they do.

Here’s another dose of reality: Unemployment is not equally distributed among job types. Already, the rate for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older is 4.2%, much lower than the national average of 6.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Other jobs data released in October shows that the unemployment rate in some sectors is trending even lower. For example, consider the unemployment figures for these in-demand positions in the fields of finance and IT:

  • Financial managers: 2.8%
  • Budget analysts: 2.2%
  • Web developers: 1.7%
  • Information security analysts: 1.0%

Trends Boosting Your Recruiting Chances

For months now, much of the world’s workforce has been working offsite. This move to remote has transformed the work paradigm. As an employer, you can now search far and wide for talent; professionals you hire don’t necessarily have to live close to your offices or even reside in the same city or state where your business has a presence. By that same measure, the ability to work from home has many candidates looking outside of their local market.

There’s another twist to the move toward working at home that could help you attract skilled workers. As companies make plans for reopening offices, some employees are finding they will no longer have the option to work at home. That is prompting some professionals who want or need to work remotely to look for a company where they can do so on an ongoing basis.

Something else in your favor is that courting passive job seekers may pay off more often than it used to. While many people are just glad to have a job now, the pandemic has caused some to be more reflective about what they value most in life – and work. A job that someone has had for years because it provided them a high rate of compensation may no longer have the same appeal if they realize it is undermining their work-life balance. A good number of employed in-demand professionals might be willing to take a similar job at another company that offers them more flexibility.

Many employers are looking to their employees for leads. According to America’s leading HR organization, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), employee referrals remain a popular way to find top talent. When’s the last time you’ve updated your employee referral program?

More employers are also turning to specialized staffing firms to connect with job seekers. These firms have large networks of candidates, so they can reach more people faster than most companies can on their own. Recruiters’ networks typically include candidates who have approached them about conducting a confidential job search. And experienced staffing professionals often stay in contact over the long term with the people they have placed. They are well-versed in their candidates’ skills and job preferences and are always keeping an eye out for opportunities that may interest these workers.

Be Open to Going the Extra Mile

Employers should keep in mind that the most in-demand professionals are likely to be very selective about the job offers they consider. That’s especially true for passive candidates who have job security. If your business is serious about hiring heavyweight talent, you’ll want to be prepared to offer a standout compensation package.

Top candidates will not only expect competitive salaries but also flexible schedules and the opportunity to work remotely at least part of the time. Many potential hires are now looking for companies offering programs designed to promote employees’ overall wellness. After the challenges we’ve all faced this year, it makes sense that many people want to work for an employer that goes the extra mile to support the well-being of its employees.

To address today’s challenges, your firm needs to acquire staff with specialized, future-forward skills who can help you address current and emerging business opportunities. These professionals are critical to operational strength and innovation and to giving you a competitive edge. Attracting them requires creativity and persistence.


This article was written by Paul McDonald from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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