Why Adaptability is Making Recruiting Easier and Harder

April 7, 2014

Half of all CEOs worldwide intend to increase their headcount over the next year. Yet most recruiters are grappling with talent shortages due to the widening skills gap. So it’s not so much an issue of job creation, but a failure of skills to keep pace – a trend that we only see increasing.  The cart is pulling the horse.

We recently asked PwC to uncover what’s contributing to the skills gap, and how it’s affecting recruiters, employers and economies. The study, called Adapt to Survive, analyzed millions of interactions from LinkedIn’s network of 277 million professionals and information on 2,600 employers from PwC’s Saratoga database across 11 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Singapore, and the US and UK).

We discovered that a key contributor to the skills gap is adaptability. This is employees’ ability and willingness to change roles and sectors AND employers’ willingness to equip employees with new skills and motivate them to address new challenges. Long story short, the more willing employees are to change roles and sectors and the more willing employers are to train them in the skills they need to do so, the less likely jobs are to go unfilled.

To determine the adaptability of each country, PwC evaluated the rate at which professionals switch between roles and sectors, the rate at which they’re promoted, and the number of jobs left open in sectors. The result is the Talent Adaptability Score. As you can see, adaptability varies widely across countries, with the Netherlands coming out on top and China and India ranking lowest.

Talent Adaptability Score

If you’re a recruiter in highly adaptable country, like the Netherlands and UK, you’re in luck. Those countries enjoy shorter hiring processes, higher first-time candidate acceptance rates, and lower short-term resignation rates (those resigning their post within 12 months), which results in greater productivity and higher ROI per every dollar spent on employees.

The research suggests low adaptability costs the 11 markets in the study USD$150 billion annually in lost productivity and avoidable recruitment costs (including USD$81.6 billion in China, USD$31.7 billion in the US and USD$11.8 billion in Brazil).  And that’s an estimate based on them matching the adaptability found in the Netherlands.

But what does this mean to you as a recruiter or an employer? The report calls out some strategies that can help you tap into the adaptability agenda:

  • Companies need to understand and value adaptability. Plan for the future using talent analytics. This enables you to accurately align people to roles – both now and for the future, delivering a greater return from your talent.
  • Adaptable behaviour can be nurtured within organisations. Review training, people management programmes and recalibrate rewards to incentivise people away from ‘business as usual’ behaviours.
  • Harness online professional networks. Use smart analytics – as a third of those surveyed are already doing – to not only predict your future skills needs, but also use online talent brand presence to send clear signals to candidates. This will ensure you become a destination for adaptable talent as well as giving them the opportunity to respond to your needs. In fact, we can see a strong correlation between the use of professional networks in a particular market and its adaptability ranking.

Helping people see and connect with opportunity is central to our mission to develop the world’s economic graph – improving the alignment of talent and opportunity. Adapt to Survive demonstrates just why this is important and how we can all play a role.

This was the world’s first detailed study of its kind and scale. A full methodology can be found here and it should be noted that the survey used LinkedIn data to map people’s behaviours, which relies on stated member profiles.

Talent Trends