Businesses are facing a growing shortage of workers. More and more employers are reporting major difficulties in recruiting the right people. Despite the pandemic that has shaken the world, the trend in employment has been challenging for a longer period of time and it's not going to get easier. Let's see why. 

Digitalization has changed the world. Traditional recruitment through job boards or job advertisements no longer works. Candidates are not being reached, and even if the advertisement would be seen, it is usually not bringing in enough applications. Even good vacancies are being left without viable candidates. There are many reasons why there are no employees today. 

Let's look at the shortage of workers from the following perspectives:

  • the changing role of jobs
  • outdated application processes
  • too narrow a target group for recruitment


#1 Changing role of jobs – increasing need for expertise in all jobs


Today, expertise is needed in almost every job more than it used to be. The workplace uses software, machines, and other technologies that require ever deeper expertise and know-how. New tools have made work more efficient, but the demands of work have increased year on year. It is no longer enough to have a pair of hands to do the job - you need the right kind of know-how to go with them. In a tightening market, companies are having to compete for the same talent. No wonder, then, that there is a shortage of workers and that suitable workers cannot be found through traditional recruitment methods. 

#2 Outdated recruitment process – the traditional recruitment process is outdated and reaches only a fraction of the experts suitable for the job

The traditional job search process has gone digital, but its structures are still based on the days when a worker put a bundle of papers in an envelope and waited for a response. 

In a traditional job search, the applicant is typically asked to:

  • CV
  • an application form
  • a free-form letter of application to the employer 


This is still the case, although the world has changed to digital. It takes several hours to update a CV and tailor it to the job applied for, fill in applications and write letters. The application process alone makes applying for a job a big decision, requiring a considerable investment of time and a firm decision to apply for a job. This discourages applicants.

Changing technology also affects the devices used to search for jobs: most job searches are now conducted on mobile devices. Typing out long applications or CVs on a small phone screen is virtually impossible. Even if the right job would come along, the application process is stuck in a device-inappropriate application process. The applicant's desire to express interest is most likely to be unwillingly postponed, waiting for a better moment. After that, the link may be lost or the application forgotten. As a result, suitable job seekers may not be found despite an interesting job offer. 

#3 Too narrow a target group for recruitment – few potential employees are looking for a new job

According to a study commissioned by Sitra, only 15% of the labor force is actively looking for a new job. At the same time, up to 52% of the workforce would be willing to change jobs if a suitable new job came along. If recruitment succeeds in reaching these passive applicants, the number of potential applicants will suddenly rise from 15% to 67% of the target group. The shortage of skilled workers in many sectors could start to be seen in a different light. Read more about digital recruitment here.

What can employers do if they face a shortage of workers? 

Employers can influence the recruitment process by choosing more job seeker-friendly ways to recruit the employees they are looking for. However, there are yet many factors other than the recruitment process that influence workers' choices. 

Let's look at the shortage of workers through the following factors:

  • understanding the candidate-driven market
  • employer image matters
  • salary is not the only selection criterion


Understanding the applicant-driven market - getting to know each other is important

In sectors where there is a shortage of workers, recruitment is increasingly a two-way process of getting to know each other, rather than a one-way street, where the employer has the power to choose from many suitable candidates. This means a shift in power, and this is something employers should be aware of. The employer and the potential employee are getting to know each other on the same level – that means each side needs to bring out what they have to offer the other to establish compatibility. In order to bring the two parties to the negotiating table, it is necessary to influence the perception of the employer. The employer should therefore be able to sell herself or himself as an employer to her or his new employee, rather than interviewing her or him. Most job seekers already have some idea of the employer when they come to the interview.  

Employer image matters

The employer image drives candidates' interest. If the employer's image is vague, the employer may face a shortage of suitable candidates despite a good recruitment process or a good position. It is important to remember that the image of the company within the company itself can be very different from the image outside the company. Employers should therefore not rely too much on their own experiences and perceptions of themselves as employers. The personal experience of a company as an employer starts at the job application stage. Read more about recruitment powerhouses and candidate experiences here.

Salary is not the only selection criterion – people are looking for a more holistic approach to the job

The highest bidder doesn't always get the best employee – at least not if we're talking about money alone. The meaningfulness of work has become an important factor, especially among young skilled professionals. In addition to meaningfulness, people are now looking for a holistic fit for the rest of their lives. While large organizations can compete on visibility and branding, small start-ups can offer more flexible working conditions or other benefits that other employers do not. So employers should consider what strengths they can bring to the table as an employer when finding the right employee. He or she must then be able to convince the desired employee of his or her suitability. An outdated recruitment process can lead to a continued shortage of employees.

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