Word on the street

Jim Schaffer

As summer comes to a close, our industry welcomes good news and confronts bad news. The good: Companies are fighting their way out of the recession through ingenuity, superior product development and clever marketing strategies. The bad: Skilled talent is in short supply. In fact, the old adage “finding good help is hard these days” has never been truer than it is today. As companies fight to emerge from the recession and begin the long process of hiring top talent, they are discovering a shortage of skilled (and experienced) individuals.

I saw this firsthand several weeks ago when I spoke to the Southern Building Materials Association (SBMA) at the summer conference in Virginia Beach. At the conference, I was approached by countless industry leaders who told me how difficult it was to find top-level talent to lead their businesses out of the recession. It is a function of years of stagnant economic activity combined with a shrinking pool of experienced people, and it is a very real concern for the industry. Some industry leaders have resorted to hiring inexperienced millennials (their own kids!). What a scary proposition! In fact, studies show that the millennial generation will comprise 46% of the workforce by 2020.

So how do you, as an industry leader, navigate the growing talent gap to find the right people for your business? Start by acknowledging changes in the economy and the industry since the recession hit several years ago. Utilize technology and social media to recruit and retain experienced talent and identify the rising stars of the millennial generation.           

Be willing to make an investment in the human resources you bring to your team. Hiring smart is the quickest way to strengthen your company as it emerges from the Great Recession, so don’t be afraid to engage outside professionals to help you find the right job candidates.

Jim Schaffer is chairman at Schaffer Associates, an executive search firm. He can be reached at Jim@consultSA.com or (704) 535-9939.

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