Survey Says: Employers Feeling a Talent Shortage

The 2011 Talent Shortage Survey (1) results have been released, and news is mixed for job seekers. By being forced to reduce their workforce and find ways to “do more with less” during the recent recession, businesses have found that they can do great things if they have the right talent in place. What is interesting is that while companies are not planning to increase their staff back to the pre-recession levels, they are looking for the “right” people, and apparently having a difficult time finding them. So… the good news is that companies are hiring, the bad news is that it’s a very competitive job market and employers are looking for the right combination of specific skill sets and excellent soft skills or business experience.

A few more interesting findings from the survey:

• U.S. companies reported a dramatic increase in how difficult it is for them to find the people they are looking for-from 14% to 52%, a 38 percentage point increase.

• Why are employers having such a difficult time filling positions when there are clearly a lot of people looking for work? One in four of the employers surveyed stated environmental/market factors, they just can’t find anyone available in their area. Another 22% said applicants lack the technical competencies needed, and 15% of companies stated lack of business knowledge or formal qualifications as the main reason candidates did not qualify.

• Hoping to get trained by the company? Don’t count on it-three-quarters of employers globally cited candidates’ lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the reason they could not fill positions, but only one in five is concentrating on training and development to fill that gap.

Whether you are aggressively seeking a new position or just putting your feelers out there because you’ve heard that companies are starting to hire again, this information can provide a lot of insight into how to approach your search. Some tips to consider:

• Think about location. A lot of people don’t want to or can’t relocate, but if it’s an option for you, look outside your region. While your skill set may not be in demand in your particular area, perhaps it’s a fit with an employer in another city or region.

• Assess your technical competencies and compare them to the current standards for your field. Are your “hard” skills up-to-date with today’s standards? Is there anything you need to brush up on or new skills you need to learn to be competitive? The market is tough and employers want the perfect person, so make yourself as perfect as you can. Build up your skills through education, volunteer work or even taking a lower-level job than you really want to get particular on-the-job experience.

• Take a hard look at your “soft” skills. Having the right interpersonal and communication skills, values and mindset can be as important to a potential employer as your “hard” skills. Do some personality assessments, work with a career coach or have an honest discussion with a friend. Often a very skilled or talented person ultimately doesn’t get the job because of a poor fit in this area.

• Make sure employers can find you. Connect with recruiters, visit company career pages, stay active on LinkedIn and industry-specific social media sites, and make sure your any resumes you have posted online are current and well put-together.

Employers are seeking the right people to add to their team, so you need to do everything you can to be that right person for them.

1 Source: 2011 Talent Shortage Survey, study conducted by Manpower Group:

This article may be reprinted when the copyright and author bio are included.

©2011 Kristen Harris, Portfolio Creative, LLC.

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The Story Behind the News – Lawsuits Over Inaccurate Criminal Reports employment news current

According to a story from ABC News on October 13, 2008, there have been dozens of lawsuits in the past two years alleging that background checks have cost people jobs because they were inaccurately identified as criminals when in fact they were not. The story focused on the use of massive criminal databases, where private firms have aggregated millions of records that are not always accurate.

The inaccuracies come in two varieties:

1. The criterion used in the database is “name match only” and reports a criminal record that in fact belongs to someone else. That is because such database searches may not always contain identification data, such as date of birth.
2. The database contains criminal records that are outdated and should not be considered by employers, because something occurred after the data was obtained which makes the record non-reportable, such as a deferred adjudication, expungement, a judge’s order that records be sealed or some sort of judicial “set aside” under state law.

Here is why these errors occur: under the federal law that regulates pre-employment screening, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), a screening firm has two options when it comes to the use of these private databases. Under Section 613 of the FCRA, a screening firm can either re-verify the criminal database records at the courthouse to ensure it is current and up-to-date, OR send a contemporaneous notice to the applicant advising them that a criminal record is being reported about them.

The problem arises in situations where a screening firm chooses to utilize the “notice” option and does not go to the courthouse to ensure the record applies to the applicant and is proper to report. Although that is a legal practice under the FCRA, it is also a reason that some background reports contain information that does not relate to the applicant or should not have been reported, sometimes referred to as a “false positive.”

It should be noted that this is NOT an issue in California, since that is the one state that specifically requires a screening firm to ensure that public records are current and up-to-date. California law does not permit a screening firm to simply report what is in a database and send a notice to the applicant.

It is also critical to note that such databases can also contain “false negatives,” which means that person with a criminal record is falsely identified as being clear. This can happen because these private databases are a quilted patchwork of data from a number of sources, with wide variations in accuracy, completeness and timeliness. Also, a number of jurisdictions do not report any data at all to these databases.

For example, such a database is of little use in some large states like California or New York where little data is reported or identifiers are not provided. Although such databases can be valuable because they contains millions of records, they are best used as a pointer or lead generator for places to look for records, and should not replace court searches of counties where a person has lived or worked unless the database contains the same information that is available at the courthouse.

In response to these concerns, a number of screening firms, including ESR, have adopted standards that would prevent inaccurate criminal records from databases. This is also part of the Concerned CRA standards at:

The Concerned CRA standards are as follows:
A CRA that chooses to display the “Responsible Criminal Databases” seal is self-certifying that they subscribe to the following standards when using criminal records in databases in the context of employment-related screening, exclusive of the screening of volunteers, tenants, and other non-employment relationships:

1. Criminal records databases compiled by non-government entities will only be used as indicators of possible records. Prior to making any report about a potential or current employee to an employer about a criminal record from a database, the CRA will verify the information directly with the reporting jurisdiction. This ensures that employers make decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information.

2. When using these databases it is important that current or prospective employer clients are provided information about the limited nature of criminal records databases and the importance of researching each applicant’s criminal history in the jurisdictions in which the applicant currently or previously has lived or worked.

The Story Behind the News – Lawsuits Over Inaccurate Criminal Reports