Reskilling: A Game-Changing Opportunity for Search Firms

While a skills shortage creates challenges for search firms in an increasingly candidate-driven market, it also presents a chance for recruiters to provide clients with reskilling services. According to a report by Bullhorn, reskilling provides a solution to an increasingly big problem, but few recruitment firms are making serious efforts to incorporate it into their plans. Let’s explore the report.

April 15, 2019 – Skills shortages are a well-documented hurdle for executive search firms. Those firms surveyed by Bullhorn cited the challenge as their top challenge in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but the problem appears to be getting worse. Unemployment is at historic lows — for the first time in the history of labor statistics, there are 6.7 million openings for jobs and 6.3 million individuals looking for work — and projections show a widening talent gap in key industries.

While these confluent factors create difficulties for search firms in an increasingly candidate-driven market, they also present a historic opportunity, according to the Bullhorn report. The shortage has created a demand for recruitment firms, and with it, an opening for them to provide an unprecedented level of value. “Recruitment agencies can do more than place talent; they can create talent by reskilling candidate pools,” the report said.

Reskilling — sometimes referred to as retraining and upskilling — is the process of helping workers turn outmoded skills into ones that are highly applicable to the modern world. By investing in online courses, training academies and apprenticeship programs, recruitment firms can transform the careers and lives of candidates, all while filling positions through the creation of newly-qualified talent pools

“The recruitment industry loses half a billion dollars in annual turnover,” said Art Papas, Bullhorn’s founder and CEO. “Imagine if we took employees from lower-wage jobs and reskilled those people. This could be a trillion dollar industry with a very different profile. This isn’t a crisis; this is a huge opportunity for all of us,” he said.

Be a Reskilling Visionary

Bullhorn found that few search firms are making serious efforts to incorporate reskilling into their plans. Forty-seven percent of surveyed professionals predict an increase in reskilling efforts, but just five percent said reskilling would be a top priority for their agency. Out of 16 options presented to survey respondents, in fact, reskilling came in near the bottom.

Source: Bullhorn

That’s not to say that all recruiting firms are ignoring reskilling. Two demographics of Bullhorn’s survey respondents were significantly more likely to express interest in reskilling: enterprise companies and technology-savvy companies. A projected increase in workforce reskilling, in fact, was highly correlated with an understanding of AI. “In other words, many of the most successful and/or innovative search firms are embracing reskilling,” the Bullhorn report said.


Companies Hiring on Basis of Skills Rather Than Open Positions
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…


Major players in the industry are already getting started. Adecco invested heavily to acquire the education organization General Assembly. “Adecco is seizing the reskilling opportunity by aligning with a company whose mission is to radically transform careers through training, and we applaud them,” Mr. Papas said.

Related: Why Finding Effective Leaders Remains a Challenge

“Our clients are looking for partners to improve access to scarce 21st century skills and help navigate workforce transformation,” said Alain Dehaze, CEO of the Adecco Group. “Demand for digital skills is growing but supply remains constrained. The rise of automation also creates a critical need to reskill workers, with as many as 375 million employees globally needing to transition to new roles by 2030.”

How to Get Started

Reskilling isn’t limited to large recruiting organizations. Bullhorn said that there are many ways for both large and to boutique executive search firms to incorporate reskilling into their growth strategy — from focusing on one underdeveloped skill-set among their candidates to pinpointing a particular job that needs filling and working backward to identify ways to evolve the skills of the available candidates.

To get off the ground, Bullhorn offers four steps firms can take:

1. Evaluate Your Open Reqs. What percentage of jobs in the same skill-sets can you identify as far as popularity of emerging skills and competencies? What trends?


Assessing Soft Skills to Land Your Next Top Hire
When you’re hiring a new employee, it can be easy to miss some marks during an interview and focus simply on whether the candidate has the technical skills to do the job on day one. While technical skills are important, it isn’t enough to find someone who can do the job without also assessing a cultural fit for your team.


2. Create an “Aptitude Translation” Chart. Use your recruitment expertise to map the skills keywords that characterize available candidates from your ATS to jobs for which they may one day be relevant if given proper training. Is a candidate returning from active military duty? He or she may have innate leadership ability, logistical insight or sales acumen. Continue this exercise across your candidate database.

Related: How to Build Resilient Leaders

3. Consider Hidden Talent Pools. Returning mothers, service members and candidates with special needs are phenomenal sources of talent and they have been traditionally overlooked. Don’t ignore these groups when you are initiating your reskilling efforts.

4. Invest in Your Talent. Reskilling hinges on making an investment in educating the candidates with which you work with to ensure they can be effective in new, highly sought-after roles. As their guide and partner, you have the power to show them that they have the capacity for change, and that your clients should trust their pure aptitude to tackle new challenges.

“Putting in the effort upfront to reskill your candidates will pay off tenfold,” the Bullhorn report said. “You’ll fill more jobs, keep clients satisfied and ultimately transform the course of your candidates’ lives. What are you waiting for?”

Related: Why Flexing to Client Needs Matters More Now Than Ever

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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