How Fast-Growing Teams Can Avoid Talent Gaps

Hiring the right people can make or break a fast-growing company. This is why the recruitment process is so important and why the current digital skills gap is so alarming. A report by Capgemini and LinkedIn found that of 1,200 global organizations surveyed, 54% said they’d been affected by the skills shortage. For companies with limited time and resources, it can be challenging to stand out and reach good candidates with the right skills.

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For any growing company, a bad hire can be a costly mistake. Hiring someone who doesn’t fit with the company culture or lacks the flexibility to wear many hats can lead to a skills gap on the team that can be difficult to fill. Fortunately, there are ways to determine if a candidate is a good fit during the hiring process and keep current employees happy during the growth stage.

How to avoid a talent gap at your startup

1. Refresh recruitment practices

Recruiting for different roles in the exact same way won’t yield the best results. As a company grows, recruitment processes should be updated to evaluate candidates for fit first, and skills second. Too often hiring managers focus on candidates with skills that are exact matches to the job descriptions and not enough on whether or not candidates are passionate, flexible, and have the potential to grow with the company.

Digital talent gap

Image: Sarah O’Brien, Study Warns the Digital Talent Gap Is Widening—Here’s What You Can Do (LinkedIn Talent Blog)

Of course, skills and past experiences are important qualifying factors. However hiring managers should also interview and test candidates for real skills that will be used every day on the job. For instance, take a software engineer at Google. Their title doesn’t mean they will actually be a good fit for any open software engineer job. It may be that his or her skills will not actually be transferable.

Incorporating a test project into the recruitment process that reflects the real work the candidate will be performing is one of the best ways to test if their skills are adaptable. A test project can also help to weed out applicants who lack the flexibility to expand their roles.

2. Promote upskilling and learning opportunities

Deloitte found that 42% of millennials are likely to leave their current jobs because they aren’t learning fast enough. The lack of any career development opportunities is now one of the top reasons employees leave their jobs. The younger generation places more value on continuous learning. Therefore this new part of the workforce expects employers to provide opportunities to learn new skills.

The good news is that investing in employee upskilling is one of the best ways for fast-growing companies to avoid a skills gap as well. Upskilling doesn’t have to be expensive either. Simply encouraging employees to learn new skills and offering them the time to do so is more than what many organizations are doing today.

For instance, companies can organize outings to local workshops or events where other industry leaders are sharing their expertise. Another option is to allocate a certain number of hours per week or month for employees to learn a new skill on their own. Companies can incentivize learning with a monetary or non-monetary benefit as well. Not only does this appeal to the employees but it also ensures a highly-trained and knowledgeable staff for the company.

Keep in mind upskilling current employees should go beyond just boosting skills for specific roles, such as technical skills. Growing companies should also provide opportunities for employees to improve soft skills such as leadership and communication. Investment in these skills puts companies in a better position to promote current employees to higher up positions when they become available. Investing can also potentially eliminate the need for lengthy and costly searches for outside talent.

3. Build a community

The key to retaining good employees and avoiding talent gaps is making sure everyone feels valued and like they belong at the company. Organizing opportunities for employees to bond with each other is a popular solution. However, for growing companies, it may be more even important to organize mentorship opportunities on a regular basis.

Building a work culture that encourages mentorship can keep employees engaged. It can also be a good incentive to stay should an employee consider leaving the company. A mentor relationship is something that can be difficult to let go. It can be even more difficult to know if mentorship opportunities actually exist at another job. Not only does mentorship play an important role on a personal level for employees, but it’s also one of the best ways to strengthen a team and keep employees happy.

The right team for growth

In a highly-competitive job market, fast-growing companies with limited resources must think creatively and strategically when it comes to recruiting and retaining talent. Building up a winning team and avoiding a talent gap are some of the biggest challenges a growing company will face. It takes time and patience to create an engaging company culture. But the reward is employees who are passionate about their work and motivated to grow with the company.

David Lloyd is the CEO and Co-Founder of The Intern Group, an award-winning social enterprise that offers international internship programs. The company has helped more than 5,000 students from 125 countries find internships abroad at leading companies, NGOs, and national governments.

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  • Originally published February 8, 2019, updated June 27, 2024