We ended the year well and have started 2022 with a surge in client briefs with the question on everyone’s lips being whether there is going to be enough talent to meet demand. It’s a big, long-term issue with Korn Ferry suggesting a global human talent shortage of 85 million people by 2030 resulting in $8.5trillion in unrealized annual revenue. A ManpowerGroup survey suggests that “…talent shortages in the U.S. have more than tripled in a decade”, with 69% of U.S. employers struggling to find skilled workers.
Creativity and hard work has always been needed to find the best candidate for any role. We have also seen the well-publicized rise in “boomerang employees” returning to their previous employers, with plenty of advice emerging on how to welcome those who have strayed back into the fold. Even the possibility of tempting retirees back into the mix of available workers has gained gathering interest with advocates touting their maturity and stability as significant benefits.
At TALTRAN Global we don’t rule out any source of good quality, professional expertise but believe that the recruitment dynamics of the past two years have created the conditions for two significant but little recognized pools of talent in 2022. They emerge because the initial pandemic-induced uncertainty of mid to late 2020 led businesses to urgently seek experienced financial talent to batten down the hatches or turn potential into opportunity. Then from early to mid-2021 companies began to assemble finance teams able to optimize performance, build units to take advantage of substantial investment opportunities and then, as time wore on, replace staff lost in the “great resignation”.
One group from the first surge moved for more money, perceived opportunity or greater reward but are finding that the company they chose for advancement has not lived up to its initial promise. Later in 2022 they will have done two years – enough to demonstrate success and commitment but with a powerful story to tell a potential new employer. The other, from both the first and second surge, is driven, energized talent that has filled the past twelve to eighteen months gaining experience that might have taken a decade to acquire if their boss hadn’t been tempted away.
Acting Up But Not Paid Up
Many in the second of these groups are hungry and ready to move now because they are individuals for whom “the Great Resignation” and pandemic related cost-cutting culls simply meant greater responsibility and more work without the accompanying reward. HBR research indicates that over 2020 and 2021 “employees between 30 and 45 years old have had the greatest increase in resignation rates” and someone younger or less experienced often had to step up. A recent HR Dive article reflected views that, “Planned 2022 salary increases not enough to retain talent” and we are seeing that play out as this group considers their options.
We are actively interviewing many early to mid-career finance professionals who have been obliged to take on unexpectedly high levels of challenge and seniority and it has made them ready for the next step. Surprisingly, there are still companies who are not paying sufficient attention to retaining and rewarding these individuals. We are even being told by some candidates that their current company thinks they should be grateful to still be recognized as the “interim” solution to a gap left when somebody else resigned.
They have made significant and sometimes transformational changes in businesses trying to survive the changing economic circumstances of the past two years. Whether it is cost-cutting and financial control or investment for reorientation and operational efficiency they have moved fast and made an impact. As their current employer looks forward to a more stable environment this contribution is being taken for granted and they are expected to settle back into a more obscure role.
Our discussions with companies looking for talent are focusing on the potential that these candidates have to fill more senior positions in their next career move. Taking responsibility during a period of crisis or at an early stage of your career can provide a strong foundation for moving successfully into larger roles but that also requires imagination and courage from the employing company. The challenge is sometimes to persuade businesses with a view of the “ideal” candidate that they should be looking at the battle-hardened young tyro who has the drive, energy and hard-earned insight to take the next step.
Searching for Greener Grass
Financial professionals that took the opportunity to move to new companies relatively early in the pandemic are now in a position where they can reflect on the experience they have gained and whether the role presents the long-term option they want. In some cases, the organization and its potential may look less interesting from the inside but in others they are excited by the discovery of their own capability for creating change and delivering business solutions. They realize that they have a resume with solid achievements and a personal story of growth and success in tough circumstances.
Others are finding it has been a year or so where the work was interesting but the imagined opportunities did not materialize. They might have done a very good job, improved the business and delivered solutions and realize that they can demonstrate a track record of high impact, change management and leadership. Or it may be that the new company has done a poor job in building the retention framework that is increasingly vital to hang on to top talent.
Recruiting companies can be nervous at the prospect of engaging with someone who has only been with their current company for a relatively brief period but a two-year span, with evidence of delivering results, often gives enough comfort. We encourage clients to engage with any concerns about ‘job-hopping’ at interview but our vetting process will have covered the ground long before we put someone forward as a candidate. There are plenty of reasons someone may find their current job unsatisfactory and what matters most is whether they can deliver what the next employer needs.
Catching the Wave
The pandemic was mightily unwelcome and created surge after surge of disruption and new variants. One outcome has been an unprecedented level of economic turbulence and personal uncertainty. On reflection it appears to have also triggered successive waves of job moves, career changes and resignations.
Some professionals have accelerated their development and taken on new responsibilities far earlier in their career than they expected. There is a renewed confidence from many candidates that they are coming into 2022 with the skills needed to make an impact for any business that offers the right opportunity. For recruiters it presents intriguing possibilities to build networks of dynamic, emergent professional talent while also finding and attracting those who are less than content with a mid-pandemic move.