Why Is it So Hard to Find Talented People?

Why Is it So Hard to Find Talented People?

With a large number of baby boomers retiring on a daily basis, too many smaller companies aren’t being proactive about addressing the elephant in the room.

An article from Business Insider suggests that many companies in America are struggling to find the right people to serve their needs, to build their business and serve their customers. The monthly jobs report produced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has consistently shown over the past year that (a) the unemployment rate has decreased over the past 12 months and (b) the size of the labor pool has decreased as well.

So, with high rates of retirements, unemployment dropping, and the number of available jobs rising, why are some companies not able to find the people they need? Here are 4 reasons, and potential solutions, playing a role in this economic challenge:

They’re Looking in the Wrong Place

Ignoring the importance of company culture, too many companies look outside of their organization to find someone, rather than looking within. They see the people they have on their team performing in their assigned jobs, and can’t imagine them doing something differently. Since the employee is accomplishing the task needed, the organization doesn’t want to shift them to something else, believing it would be easier to bring in an outsider.

Potential Solution:  Proactively identify a potential internal candidate, discuss with them if they’re up for the challenge and growth opportunity, and then try it out for three months. If it works, great; if not, then you go outside. If you don’t have a team member you feel confident you can invest in to help your business grow, you have other employee issues you need to think about.

They Wait Until the Last Minute

The most successful companies anticipate a need months in advance and begin looking to fill that need immediately. If you’re waiting until the last minute, not only do you increase the risk of bringing on a bad hire with compounding problems, you’re not setting up the new employee (or your company) to achieve the optimal level of success.

Potential Solution: You have to make the time to invest in your future, or you’ll always be playing catch-up and flying by the seat of your pants. Make the investment in planning and strategy, and take the appropriate risk based on the planning.

Do you really think the most successful companies fly by the seat of their pants?  

No. They don’t.

Expecting the Perfect Employee to Walk Through the Door

Every now and then, I’ll check out the help wanted ads to see what companies are looking for to see if instead of needing a new employee, they just need to get better organized and structured. Depending on the organization or the industry, the list of required skills can be so long, the company is looking for a needle in a hay-stack.

Potential Solution: Clarify the absolute skills you have to have in an employee and be flexible on the rest of the skills, but not the attitude. A person with a willingness to learn can be taught the rest of the skills you need. And if you’re poaching from a competitor within the same industry, there’s usually a reason they’re available…and it’s not always good.

Being Cheap

Like it or not, people come to work (especially early in their careers) for the money. Yes, people say they want to work for a great company that treats them well, cares about the environment, and understands the importance of a work-life balance. And these are all true…but these things also don’t put a roof over their head, pay the electric bill, or put gas in their car. I’ve seen it many times: companies spend the time and investment it takes to recruit a new employee, hire them at a cheapskate rate, and then wonder why they leave 90 days later for an extra $1 an hour.

Potential Solution: The old adage is true about getting what you pay for. Know what the local market is paying relative to cost of living, compare this with the expectations you have for employees in terms of work environment, and pay slightly above that rate. An investment in the front end, along with continued maintenance, will pay-off far more than if you’re being cheap.

I’m a big believer that a business is only as strong as the people working within the business. If you’re struggling to grow your people, or to find your people, it’s time to invest in them more.

In the race to the bottom there are no winners – 

just businesses that can’t find talented employees.

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Steve Goble

Steve is a Founding Partner of the John Maxwell Team and owner of the Goble Group. He enjoys building people, solving problems, and growing organizations. He is a former D1 lacrosse player, current Rotarian, and loves his wife and kids. His ultimate goal is to figure out how to be a paid as a full-time dad. Connect with Steve.

Reader Interactions


  1. Duncan from Vetter says

    Great article Steve! Indeed, there are many companies that don’t deal with recruiting in a proactive manner. As a result, they end up with the wrong people, or with people who are not willing to stay. If you want to get things done correctly, you need to know right from the start if you actually need a new employee, what you expect from your future employee, and how to keep your employees. As simple as that, or maybe not for all. It’s all a matter of attitude and commitment.

    • Steve Goble says

      Thanks for the kind words Duncan, appreciate it! You’re absolutely right about the attitude and commitment. So many companies have sacrificed the long-term to focus on short term goals, that ultimately causes their actions (or in-action) to have a negative effect on the long-term.


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