Expand Your Talent Pool

The obvious answer to the shortage of talent is to expand the talent pool. That is what many businesses are doing right now. However, they are doing it the wrong way.

Expanding the talent pool usually means accepting someone with less of a background than you want. For example, if you want someone with a degree and 5 years experience, but you can't find them, you settle for a degree and 2 years experience. That can work, but usually doesn't because you've put someone who you know isn't ready into a position to fail.

I believe the answer is to expand the talent pool horizontally, not vertically. Don't lower your standards, move your standards outward.

What I mean is that we tend to look at people in a certain field or industry. In many cases, specific field or industry knowledge isn't necessary. It requires thinking differently about the position and the job.

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article about how teachers were leaving the field and joining the corporate world. In most cases, there is nothing a teacher did that would equate to experience in the corporate world. However, by looking deeper at the skills (organization, the ability to present, the ability to communicate, etc.), you can easily see how a teacher might fit in well in an organization.

Expanding the pool vertically isn't good. Expanding horizontally is the answer.