Shortage of Qualified Top Professionals Will Continue Throughout the Decade
In company after company, many top-level roles remain unfilled, and will remain so for quite some time. Many companies will continue to morph and change what is required to get maximum results for each newly created job.
Marc Margolis addressed this “sea change” in The Daily Beast in May 2010:
“After shedding help in droves during the recession, many businesses find they are now shrunken and bereft of the qualified professionals needed to kick-start growth again. But employers are also colliding with a reality the economic slump simply masked. Sure, the legion of graying baby boomers set to punch out is part of the problem. So is the meltdown in the classroom, where plunging math and literacy scores and science-by-the-numbers are cheapening diplomas and hobbling tomorrow’s professionals. Yet what has turned abundance into a dearth is a sea change in the international economy that is challenging the way businesses organize themselves, create wealth, and shop their brands around the world.”
Companies have a low risk tolerance for hiring individuals, only to lay them off again. The solution, therefore, is to do more with less. This has caused a new trend that I call “executive or professional convergence.”
Just as there has been technological convergence over time, executive or professional convergence is the desire of companies to combine what traditionally were two or three top roles into one. For instance, chief information officers (CIOs) are also being asked to take on the chief operations officer role in technology-based companies. In the financial services industry, chief financial officers are absorbing the CIO role.
The shortage of qualified top professionals is the flip-side of trend number one, in that the pool of qualified talent that can fill expanded requirements is very small and hard to find. This is true not only in terms of skills, but also in actual numbers, due to the imminent exit of baby boomers from the job market, and the significantly smaller pool of individuals in the next generation.
Professionals who have held positions that encompass two or more functional roles, or who have had unusual careers, will be more sought out. Yet those very individuals are often unprepared to connect the dots and provide a clear presentation that makes sense to hiring authorities. In many cases, professionals who have had “jack of all and master of none” careers come off as quirky and too risky to hire. What do you do to plug into this trend?
The Bottom Line:
First, this convergence trend by employers, particularly in the mid-size and small company market, will cause a resurrection of those professionals who have had a deep and wide experience set, and many may find themselves suddenly courted by companies. Those who have a linear but progressive background in one functional area may find themselves out in the cold. Regardless, however, potential candidates need to provide meaning to their next employer beyond functional skill sets.
Second, high-level knowledge workers who see the future and have solutions that are proven will be in demand in this next decade. Those who have only worked in one industry or in one functional role need to break out of their functional box rather than relying on progressive skills along a single role or function.
Finally, those who have multi-industry backgrounds, who have worked in small companies wearing many hats, or who have moved around the world need to understand the importance of their background, and how these seemingly disjointed experiences have value. Now is the time to understand how your deep and wide experience applies in today’s world.
Here’s how to bring your wide and varied background into a compelling presentation:
- Review your background and “un-hide” the quirks in your career past.
- Design a thematic message that highlights a deep understanding of business.
- Develop cross-functional skills by asking for lateral assignments.
- Prepare for expanded requirements that employers want and need.
This is an excerpt from Karen’s FREE eBook, updated 2013, available for download here.