Little screenshot from an article my friend sent me:

Read the end part.

I’ve written before about the skills gap — I think it’s largely a joke. It’s usually the result of hiring managers and recruiters not being on the same page + companies not willing to pay for talent. It’s much less that the skills don’t exist and much more that people don’t know how to value them.

We’ve all seen the resumes that demand 17 bullet points including speaking Italian, a past in pornography, classical piano experience, and you once worked at Google. (That would be an interesting person.) You scroll over to LinkedIn salary calculator or whatever, or ask the hiring manager.

“Oh, we’re targeting $63,000 for this role.”

Right. You’ll never get a good person with 17 skill sets including porno and Italian and piano at 63. You just won’t. That’s not how — not ever — the free market is/was supposed to work. But companies believe they can work it that way, then bitch about a skills gap on the back-end, all the while doing nothing to raise wages.


Why do companies feel this way?

Well, tons of reasons — but one of the easiest is that a lot of business decisions in companies come from guys who got a MBA somewhere along the line. MBAs are cool and valuable, but really it’s a two-year exercise in “How do I cut costs?” You’re essentially taught to make one number go down and another number go up. Many men spend 30+ years thinking this is a “strategy.” It’s not. It’s just operational efficiency in the same way most other people are doing it.

Also, people aren’t valued in companies of more than about 100 people. There’s lots of reasons for this, but if you don’t believe me, just look at where “people issues” reside in most places: HR. Executives could give two fucks about HR. We all know this. It’s just a question of how much we are willing to admit it. HR is a joke to execs. They want it to be a “seen and not heard” department. No hard-charger worried about revenue wants Sally from HR at the mahogany when he’s making the decisions to justify his self-worth. This is the reality of work; it’s just a question of how deep your head is buried in either (a) the sand or (b) “the corporate mission.”

If you stick all people issues in a department no one with authority cares about, do you really care about people? Survey says: not really.

So why bitch about the skills gap?

Allows people to hide behind an excuse when the real story is “I don’t understand where business is going or what I need, and I don’t have the authority to pay these people what they’re worth.”

What is “engagement,” really?

Ah, the fluffiest of all terms.

I’ll keep it simple for you: an engaged employee is typically one who —

  • Is compensated well
  • Treated with respect
  • Works on projects that seem to matter to others
  • Is kept in the loop

That’s it. It’s not rocket science — or wait, I guess the new version of that line is “It’s not constructing super-human robots.” But most companies miss all four, replacing them with:

  • “Maybe we’ll find more for you next year” (Exec just pulled out in a new Mercedes)
  • “Respect? No time!”
  • “You don’t look busy, can you hop on this thing for me?”
  • “Communication? No time! Q4 exec readout!”

Stop lying about the skills gap

This is how the market works:

  • “I need this skill.”
  • “I will price it here.”
  • “I cannot find people at that price point.”
  • “I now need to either take less-quality people or raise the price point.”

Not brain surgery here. (Oh wait. Not “Advanced personalization techniques.”)

If you’re going to bitch about the skills gap, and you won’t raise your wages, well, you have no right to bitch about the skills gap — and you honestly have no right to be in business, because you clearly don’t understand how the market even works.

Ted Bauer

Originally from New York City, Ted Bauer currently lives in Fort Worth, Texas. He's a writer and editor for RecruitingDaily who focuses on leadership, management, HR, recruiting, marketing, and the future of work. His popular blog, The Context of Things, has a simple premise -- how to improve work. Ted has a Bachelors in Psychology from Georgetown and a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Minnesota. In addition to various blogging and ghost-writing gigs, he's also worked for brands such as McKesson, PBS, ESPN, and more. You can follow Ted on Twitter @tedbauer2003, connect with him on LinkedIn, or reach him on email at [email protected]