The Great Candidate Shortage of 2021

Since 2020, many candidates have found themselves out of a job, either being made redundant or losing the job during the pandemic for other reasons.

With the job shortage of 2020, candidates are left scratching their heads on where to go in the channel, but the start of 2021 changed completely.

The start of 2021 saw a huge rise in career openings, with the pandemic slowly easing this allowed companies to start advertising roles which led many candidates jump to the opportunity. However, with the surge of roles, the readily available pool of candidates quickly found a position & the remaining passive talent pools (those happily settled in roles) were hard to entice away – causing a candidate shortage.

Many CEO’s, Managing Directors and Hiring Managers are now thinking around what the next step is in terms of finding top talent for their businesses &, from Robertson Sumner’s observations, many are seeking candidates from outside the channel. Clearly experience is value when searching for talent however, while having industry experience is beneficial, hiring candidates from outside of your sector also offers unique value to your workforce.

Here is why the Robertson Sumner team would recommend considering hiring outside the channel.


Transferable soft skills

Many job descriptions you see specify hard skills that candidates need for the role, but softer skills are arguably more important.
Some soft skills such as below are incredibly important for any role

  • Analytical skills
  • Initiative
  • Priority management
  • communication skills
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Organisational skills
  • Problem solving

For example, if you had an Account Management candidate looking for a vendor role without direct vendor experience, there are many other sectors where the ability to manage high-value projects is sought after and nurtured. Leadership and commercial skills can also be sourced from outside the existing energy, process, and infrastructure talent pool.


New potential

Skills are important when it comes to hiring new talent, but it’s vital not to disregard new potential outside the channel. Exploring candidates with potential and the right attributes rather than an exact match will allow the hiring manager to have a great opportunity to develop the employee and grow their career with you.

Many candidates who are looking for new opportunities in their career path are looking for their own personal development and growth, so by offering that chance to grow within your company, you can attract employees that fit well within your company culture.

If you value the candidate’s potential over their skills this will hugely expand your talent reach, this means you’re looking outside the box because you are focusing on outside of your job description credentials. Skills can be taught, think of it this way, many of us started somewhere, whether that’s with no skills or experience and have grown with the role, but what counts is attitude is more difficult to change, so it’s important to consider this during the hiring process.


A flexible, diverse workplace

Since the pandemic hit in 2020 and early parts of 2021 companies are now more than ever promoting diversity and flexibility, many companies thrive on the ability to be flexible and learn to adapt to changes in the market.

Employing candidates with diverse professional backgrounds can improve your company by adding diversity. These individuals can fulfil the requirements of the job whilst offering a fresh point of view and new ideas to the business and ultimately this will give your company a competitive edge.


The right attributes

Attributes to put it simply, determine how you will consume, process, and respond to the environment you are in, particularly when the position you are faced in is unfamiliar. Depending on the situation, having the right attributes for a role may give you an advantage or disadvantage.

Even if you didn’t have said experience for a role, personal attributes you have from say your home life for example could really give you an advantage when interviewing for that dream role, for example if say you have children and have to look after them at home during the week, this requires a lot of patience and empathy, having this patience could really benefit you as especially in a sales role you will need this attribute as part of the role.

In a recent article on LinkedIn, Pip White the Managing Director at UK&I at Google mentioned about this particular topic, she quotes “We’ve already disregarded, then, knowledge as the most essential thing in furthering your career or hiring members of a high performing team. Skills, in general, and to a point, can be learned. Most of us have been in positions where the individual members of a team were the best in their field but didn’t work well together as a group”



There is no doubt that the channel needs more candidates, and this is the perfect time to reach out to new talent from diverse professional backgrounds, their soft skills and fresh perspectives they can bring to your company. We here at Robertson Sumner believe the positives out weight the negatives as introducing and widening your bandwidth of candidates will in the short and long-term effect impact your business in a positive way.

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