U.S. Skills Gap Challenging for Employers

by Veronica Blatt

A new report from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) shows that there were 7 million job openings in the U.S. in December, but only 6.3 million unemployed people looking for work. A full three-fourths of human resource professionals indicate there is a significant skills gap between what employers want versus what job seekers currently have. As the labor market remains tight, this gap is predicted to get worse with many job seekers lacking necessary technical or soft skills. What can employers do to address these challenges?

  • Look at alternate candidate pools … this could be retirees, foreign workers, or those with a nontraditional academic background. For example, can you consider candidates who have the right skills, but do not have a university degree? How about a two-year degree or vocational certificate instead of a four-year degree?
  • Invest in the employees you already have … how can you provide additional training to your existing employees? Is there a way to enhance their skill sets? Do you offer tuition reimbursement or other incentives for them to further their development?
  • Consider alternate work relationships and environments … Can a contractor or remote worker fill the gaps in your workforce? Would a flexible working arrangement make it easier to find or retain the right person?
  • Partner with local educators to develop co-op or internship programs … And these do not need to be limited to those who are currently in school! How can you work with local institutions to upskill or retrain workers who are already on the job? What skills are most in need in your workforce? How can you ensure those skills are being taught to students (both traditional and nontraditional)?
  • Is your job attractive? There are roles that do not suffer from a lack of qualified applicants, but the jobs themselves may currently offer low pay or benefits that are out of alignment with the current market. If you’re having trouble attracting people to your open jobs, do some research to make sure you are offering competitive pay and benefits. It’s possible that a skills gap isn’t the primary stumbling block to your hiring efforts.
  • Is your brand attractive? Over and above pay and benefits, is your company a place where the best and brightest want to work? Are you effectively selling your brand in the marketplace? Perhaps you need to invest in repositioning your brand or the types of roles you offer. For example, there is a perception that manufacturing jobs are “dirty” or unskilled … but this is patently false in many environments.

Whether it’s a direct skills gap or simply a shortage of people, labor conditions are expected to be difficult for a number of years. Employers that are creative and forward-looking will be in the best position to attract and retain the best available talent.

How Utilizing a Well Networked Recruiter Helps Your Company

by Sarah Freiburger

image to represent an international recruitment agencyFor the past few years, the recruiting landscape is more competitive than we have seen it in years, so if you’re an employer you are already restructuring to make recruiting one of the top priorities this year. This can be your year for change and growth, and a well networked recruitment agency can make this happen while saving you both time and money.

A recruitment agency is in the business of getting people employed, that is what they do. A well connected recruiter can offer your business a much wider range of connections in the industry you are looking to recruit in due to their network of recruitment partners as well as candidate databases among those recruiters. Many firms are specialized in their respective niche and location, and have a network of other firms that are specialists in other industries so working with one firm as your single point of contact allows you to skip your research to find recruiters that align with each individual need, they have it covered. These recruiters are experienced working in the industry, and have recruited candidates similar to who you are looking to hire, so they understand the skills needed to be leveraged to secure the top candidate.

They know how to maintain relationships. Getting to know your company, culture and structure is a critical piece in how a recruitment firm will represent you to a candidate. It is important that both client and candidate needs are understood to make a placement that truly fits the organization and will be beneficial to both the culture and growth. Continuing to use them for your hiring needs save you time as they can continue to build your departments out according to this knowledge to create the most stable teams.

Rest assured that if your growth leads to multi national or international expansion, a well networked recruiter with international reach will still be your single point of contact. For instance, members of our organization cover all six continents with a local presence to deliver global top talent for your hiring needs.


Artificial Intelligence is Not the Answer

by Veronica Blatt

image of brain circuitry representing artificial intelligenceToday’s guest blogger is John Francis, info@theonera.com, president and senior managing partner of Theonera, Inc. in Waterloo, Ontario (Canada). Theonera is a boutique recruitment firm specializing in engineering and software professionals and sought-after senior managers. Theonera has been a member of NPAworldwide since 2011.

Here is a major problem for any company today: A company’s success or failure rests on the people that they employ. But securing and cultivating employees that add real value to your business is no easy task. In today’s job market you have low unemployment numbers and potential employees who are extremely discerning. Read the rest of this entry »

Short and Long-Term Cost Savers in Hiring a Recruitment Agency

by Sarah Freiburger

For both small and large organizations alike, satisfied clients can agree that their external recruitment agency has been at times the most time and cost-effective way to access pools of highly skilled workers, especially those who are not actively seeking new employment.

How Recruitment Agencies Save You Time:

Only 10% of the market, if that, is actively applying for jobs. Most of these qualified individuals choose to only work discreetly with a recruitment agency when they are looking for a new challenge and opportunity. A well connected recruitment firm has thousands of candidates within their network, both actively and passively looking new roles. These recruiters are quality specialists within their sectors that have the knowledge to find the perfect fit for any hiring need. These firms pride themselves on presenting the top candidates in each market so a client only needs to make time to view candidates that will be worth considering. An independent firm also addresses all administrative issues such as all communications with the pool of applicants, verifying candidate qualifications and references as well as following up with those candidates not selected. Compared to in-house staff who may require training on best practice procedures, these highly experienced recruiters and agencies handle the process smoothly.

How Recruitment Agencies Save You Money:

Using recruitment agency removes any increased spend on multiple job adverts being posted. For instance, the NPAworldwide network gives recruitment firms allocations on top job boards, so clients can ensure that your job is advertised in all the correct places without managing the spend. Future hiring costs are significantly reduced as the agency will have knowledge of client company growth and culture so the process will be quicker which will result in even faster fills. An international firm part of a global network of recruitment firms locally based on all six continents, can especially reduce the need for in-house resources or putting in place a unique HR team if your organization expands.

Impact of Midterm Elections on the Workplace

by Dave Nerz

With the US midterm elections behind us, it is time for employers, recruiters, candidates and hiring managers to get back to filling important job openings. But what impact will the results of the elections have on the workplace? Here are some things to consider: Read the rest of this entry »

Questions for Finding an International Recruiter

by Sarah Freiburger

Many employers attempt to first use internal resources instead of looking at external recruitment companies. In markets that the employers know well and have social media connections, perhaps it is possible to avoid independent recruiters or at a minimum reduce the dependence on outside agents.  When the needs of companies expand beyond a local market and into countries where there is no physical presence, recruitment agencies may be the only way to achieve the results that are needed. As an international agency ourselves, we have prepared a few questions to consider when contracting an international agency.

1. How does your fee structure work?

There are many different approaches that recruiters use. If you have a real and immediate need opt for a firm that requires paying some sort of engagement fee or retainer so that you know that your opening will get some attention, or a devoted team and number of hours immediately put to the search. This will shorten the duration of the search and turn up candidates more quickly.


2. Does your firm have partners and connections where we are hiring?

It is often desirable to make a connection to a local recruiter with international connections rather than searching for a recruiter in the market where you have a one-off need. Develop a relationship with someone in your time-zone, who speaks your language, where you can meet them for coffee or have a meeting to hold them accountable for results. Have a relationship that is more than a single transaction. Opt for a relationship that gets leveraged around the world for your benefit, but keeps you grounded right where you are.


3. What is the most common source of the candidates you place?

Locating names is easy; selling people on making changes to their lives as significant as leaving one employer and moving to another is not easy work. It is even more difficult for the hiring company to be seen as an impartial coach or motivator of change. Sometimes the recruiter can do what even very talent hiring managers cannot. Also, look for recruiters with connections to a group of peers. You want the best candidate available not just the best candidate in their database. More like the best candidate in 20 or 30 recruitment companies’ databases. Or 500.


5. Can you tell me about international placement you have done or your affiliates/partners have done?

Examples of success are a good predictor of future success. Not every recruiter you connect with will have partners and connections and be able to share success stories. The ones who are capable will know others who are successful and have made international placements.


6. Does your firm belong to an international network or association of any type?

Ask what organizations they belong to. If they do not belong, then this show a lack of commitment or focus on what you are defining as necessary to support your search. They may have developed networks and connections independently…if so, they need to share some details on how they remain relevant in the market they hope to search for you.


There are many more you can add. In the end, it is about building a partnership and developing trust. The big things to take away are: look at the need creatively, you may find someone locally that has connections where you need to be, look for the ability to communicate examples of personal/partners success stories, and find someone who is doing recruiting not just list building.

4 Top Reasons to form Strategic Alliances

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Eric Snethkamp, global channels & strategic alliances manager for SafeGuard Global. For nearly a decade, organizations around the world have relied on SafeGuard Global for their global HR needs, specifically around payroll and employee compliance. SafeGuard Global is an Alliance Partner of NPAworldwide.

Strategic alliances, strategic partnerships and joint ventures can have considerable impact on an organization. Large-scale growth, shifting marketplaces, and new ways of doing things can be the difference in a company becoming or remaining a market leader. Read the rest of this entry »

Finding the Best Candidates

by Dave Nerz

Have you considered the position descriptions you write and the advertisements you make for finding the best candidates? Are you in search of great candidates or great employees…the best hire?

Candidates must meet a certain level of expectation to get through the recruitment process that human resources and independent recruiters set as a multi-level screening exercise. They are being compared to a position description that fails to capture the essence of a great hire, but rather is used to disqualify those who do not meet a standard. Read the rest of this entry »

8 Actions That Recruiters Stand By To Reduce Hiring Mistakes

by Sarah Freiburger

While it may be difficult to calculate the exact cost of a hiring mistake, there is no doubt that a bad hire is a costly proposition. It is commonly mentioned that a hiring mistake costs somewhere between 2-5 times the salary of the person. A study by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), puts the figure at five times the annual salary. SHRM also found that the higher the person’s position and the longer they remain in that position, the more cost is associated with this bad hire. Many companies don’t resolve poor hires quickly which can escalate the costs.

What are the root cause issues associated with hiring mistakes? These mistakes typically fall into one of three baskets: 1. Poor skills match. 2. Not a good fit (intangibles.) 3. Didn’t understand expectations. Other performance related issues can come into play but taking steps to mitigate these three factors can greatly reduce your hiring mistakes.


Here are 8 actions that recruiters stand by that will help prevent hiring mistakes:


  1. Fully identify and understand the profile of the successful candidate. Consider all factors that determine success. This includes motivation, character, emotional competency, fit with culture, personality and values etc. Too many times hiring managers are infatuated with a certain skill or experience aspect and loses sight of other critical requirements.
  2. Interview for desired intangibles. It is easy to get very focused on behavioral interview questions developed from the job description and key requirements of the position. We can all agree that success takes place as a result of a person’s drive, willingness to take good risks, deal effectively with people, fit well within their environment etc. We tailor interview questions to successfully evaluate all aspects of the candidate that will impact performance.  


  1. Evaluate the potential candidate against goals and expectations, not job descriptions. The creation of a list of desired accomplishments, expectations and projects to complete will serve you in three ways. 1. Allow you to develop questions and evaluate the candidate against actual expectations. 2. Create the right expectation with the candidate. 3. Give a good start to the critical on-boarding plan.


  1. Gather feedback and listen. Even the best talent agents have blind spots. Everyone succeeds when the decision maker is listening to those around them. Be thoughtful about the individuals that you involve in the process and gather feedback from these stakeholders as part of your decision process.


  1. Red flags should never be ignored or discounted. Learn to read basic signals that a candidate might be sending. For example, if the candidate is not responsive or slow to respond during the hiring process consider this a message. Either they are not very interested in the job or they are not likely to ever be responsive. Every candidate tells a non-verbal story. This is every bit as important as the actual interview as they are glimpses of the person that you are potentially committing to hire. Consider a meeting with the candidate in a less formal setting such as a meal to observe their behavior.


  1. Ask the candidate to make a presentation. This can either be a response to a set of questions or a specific problem. Alternatively, leave it to the candidate to present what they want to communicate about themselves as a candidate for the position. This gives you a look at the quality of their work and a glimpse of how they might perform in a work situation.


  1. Use an assessment as a final step to provide additional affirmation. The right assessment will help you further understand the candidate. The five data points to consider when making sure you have the right candidate include: 1. Experience fit with role and related track record. 2. Interview answers and feedback (tangible and intangible.) 3. References (yes you can get good information from a reference check.) 4. Assessment. 5. Candidate interest level and motivation. These five factors together present the whole picture. While the “Perfect” candidate does not exist…you will have a much fuller picture of the candidate by consistently taking all of these factors into consideration.


  1. Create an effective on-boarding or “integration” plan. Many employers feel on-boarding is something the human resources area does. In reality, effective on-boarding sets the person on the right path and helps ensure they are fully equipped to navigate complex relationships and a new set of company behaviors. Getting off on the wrong foot can be difficult to overcome. Make sure the candidate fully understands your expectations. As an example, are they expected to listen, learn and build relationships or deliver specific results in the first six months? Build bridges between the new person and key internal stakeholders. This might include introductions or participating in initial meetings. Time spent on these “integrations” will pay dividends increasing effectiveness and potentially preventing disconnects that may lead to early turnover.


NPAworldwide member firms always provide clients with the best and brightest resource on a contract, contract to hire or full-time basis. They are backed by a network of 1500 highly qualified and trained consultants who are constantly in touch with top talent ready to pursue your needs and provide solutions. 

Client Global Expansion: A Case Study

by Sarah Freiburger

The opportunities and rewards that come along with transitioning a business in to a global operation are plenty, but so are the risks. Once your home operation is steady and strong, moving to new strategically picked markets is a good next step for the right company. As a global organization, our recruitment member’s clients frequently take on this type of expansion. Here is an informative case study on how a they accomplished a move to a new market using their international recruitment firm.

A network client, a privately-held US manufacturing company, had a strategy that called for a phased expansion into China. Their plan was to develop a supply chain for materials while cultivating short-term contract manufacturing partnerships.  The ultimate goal was a dedicated China-based manufacturing operation.

The immediate challenge was a need for local talent in advance of the brick and mortar expansion of operations.  The manufacturing company’s EVP had a relationship with a local US-based recruitment firm, one of our 500+ partner affiliates. Our affiliate firm explained how their network enables global connections to meet talent requirements anywhere in the world. The EVP partnered with our affiliate firm to leverage their network for the identification of local Chinese candidates for the China-based supply chain development position.

Our affiliate activated their connections with Asia-based partners. The local affiliates took on the challenge and developed a shortlist of candidates for the position. The manufacturing company’s hiring managers went to China to meet with the candidates sourced by affiliates.  Within two weeks, a preferred candidate accepted an offer and set a start date. Throughout the process, our partner firm, with assistance from the local  affiliates provided coaching on local HR requirements, payroll issues, housing and other critical details that made a successful close to a complex process possible.   

The manufacturing company’s expansion plans are on track and full speed ahead.  A single point of contact with an international recruitment firm local to their headquarters location, allowed for global connections and the leveraging of those valuable affiliations for a confident and well planned expansion into a new market.