Plugging Your Skills Gap: Filling Difficult Roles

Alexander The Great wept – for there were no more worlds left for him to conquer. Or so it is often mis-said.

Putative quotes aside, clearly there was still plenty of land untouched by Alexander. We all know that now – but the ancient world as he knew it was much smaller.

And this is the dilemma facing many hiring companies. How do they continue to source key executives when the land (as they see it) has already been plundered?

Solution? Find experts experienced at filling difficult roles. People who understand and can overcome the four main hurdles:

  • Language

  • Location

  • Sector experience

  • Niche skills combination.

Language: Parlez-Vous Recruitment?

Britain has always struggled with second languages (for various historical and cultural reasons).

UK executives are less likely than their foreign counterparts to speak a second language with the required fluency.

Companies serious about filling roles in other countries will hire either a native speaker or someone who has spent a good few years living in the relevant territory.

Not someone with linguistic skills limited to UK schooling.

There’s no magic wand to help someone speak a foreign language overnight.

So if the ideal candidate is not immediately obvious in your sector, then you must source fluent but less obvious candidates from other sectors.

Location: Fancy Working In Siberia?

Siberia can be a tad chilly. Especially in winter. It’s not everyone’s first choice as a place to work.

So don’t be surprised if not everyone leaps at any job offers there. This also applies to other warmer but equally unappealing locations.

Here’s the reality: most highly paid UK executive roles centre on London, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and parts of Sussex and north Hampshire – the Beautiful South (East).

Executives paid big bucks buy huge houses in leafy locations.

And if you want them to forsake all that loveliness to run your Wherever office, then be prepared to hose money at them until they stop laughing.

Cold hard cash is crucial but a well presented cocktail of other benefits – such as a generous relocation package, stock, career progression, working from home – can also sweeten the pill.

It’s also worth reminding your target hires that even the most secondary of locations usually has somewhere utterly divine on its doorstep.

After all, the mill owners had to live somewhere!

Sector Experience: Someone Had To Be First…

This challenge boils down to lining up the right technology experience, such as SaaS, marketing automation, analytics, big data, AI, voice…

…with the right vertical: finance/insurance/banking, retail, manufacturing, automotive, logistics.

Sector experience may be vital at the outset – but so is an open mind.

Always remember that someone had to pioneer the technology in question. There was no huge pool of marketing automation specialists available when it was first launched – because it was brand new.

So companies recruited CRM specialists and evolved them into marketing automation gurus.

Options like that are always available to you if you cannot source an executive with your preferred sector experience.

Niche Skills Combination: I Need An Ambidextrous Double-Jointed Polymath With ESP

You’re unlikely to find executives with niche skills combinations simply by trawling LinkedIn or placing a few ads.

There’s no point looking for a needle in haystack. It does not exist – you have to forge the needle from scratch.

That will probably mean finding someone with skills parallel to your requirements (probably from outside your sector). And then tweaking those skills until they converge with your needs.

Lateral thinking is key.

You may need to compromise. Or to be accurate, you must cast aside the pre-conceptions that have prevented you from filling this important role.

The best way to explain this is to give you a real world example.

So read this story of a remarkable young software salesman. He has no degree, he lacked the necessary experience – but this year he’ll earn £600,000 in commission!

And now at just 28 years old, he has the world at his feet.

Just like young Alexander The Great.