Companies Hiring on Basis of Skills Rather Than Open Positions

You’re hired! We’re just not sure what your position is. A new Korn Ferry report finds that companies are hiring on the basis of skills vs. open positions. Let’s take a closer look.

February 21, 2019 – Companies in a number of industries are facing a potential C-suite challenge – an alarming lack of qualified candidates to fill roles that are likely to become vacant due to retirement and other factors in the next 10 to 15 years.

This breakneck speed of turnover in businesses is forcing talent acquisition professionals to look into their crystal ball while hiring for both near-term and future needs, according to a new global survey by Los Angeles-headquartered executive recruiter and leadership consultant Korn Ferry, the largest in the Americas as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media.

The survey found that 57 percent of respondents have hired for a specific skill-set even if no role exists for the candidate. More than three quarters (77 percent) of the hiring managers said they are hiring for roles today that didn’t even exist a year ago.

“While technological advances are creating new roles in areas such as data analytics and artificial intelligence, other trends, such as an enhanced focus on the customer experience journey, are putting a premium on different skillsets,” said Jacob Zabkowicz, Korn Ferry vice president and general manager, RPO, North America. “Businesses increasingly understand that the rapid pace of change means that, to thrive in the future, they will need access to skills and expertise that don’t necessarily fit within existing job descriptions.”

Unfortunately, the speed of transformation has also meant that 67 percent of those surveyed said they have had to lay off people whose roles are no longer relevant to the organization’s direction.

According to the Korn Ferry survey, one approach to finding the right talent for emerging roles is to look within the existing employee base. Nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of the talent professionals said they invest more on upskilling existing talent than recruiting externally, and nearly half (47 percent) said they have formal retraining programs for workers whose jobs have evolved.


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“With the labor market as tight as it has been in decades, it’s critical that employers look inside their own walls to find talented people who could be trained to meet the evolving needs of the organization, today and well into the future,” said Mr. Zabkowicz, who focuses on ways to increase our effectiveness, promote cutting edge technology, and leverage Korn Ferry and Korn Ferry Intellectual property where possible.

Additional Findings

The Korn Ferry survey, which was conducted last month, drew 600 respondents. Here is a look at the questions and responses:

Are you hiring for roles that didn’t exist a year ago?
Yes 77 percent
No 23 percent
Have you ever hired a candidate with a specific skill set even if you don’t yet have a defined role for that person?
Yes 57 percent
No 43 percent
Given the fast-changing environment and tougher competition for talent, do you invest more in:
Upskilling your team 61 percent
Recruiting externally 39 percent
Have you had to lay off people because their roles are no longer relevant to your organization’s direction?
Yes 67 percent
No 33 percent
Do you have formal programs in place to retrain workers whose jobs have evolved?
Yes 47 percent
No 53 percent
Because of the rate that new roles are evolving, are you finding the need to outsource your recruiting needs to an expert more or less than you did five years ago?
We outsource much more 14 percent
We outsource a bit more 22 percent
We outsource approximately the same amount 36 percent
We outsource a bit less 14 percent
We outsource much less 14 percent
Do you currently have an RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) solution in place to support with hiring talent?
Yes 39 percent
No 61 percent
If answered no, are you considering putting an RPO (recruitment process outsourcing) solution in place to support with hiring talent?
Yes 23 percent
No 77 percent

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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