Dire predictions that the retirement of the baby boomer generation combined with fewer younger workers coming through will lead to a future recruitment crisis in America and around the world are wide of the mark. It's not the future, it's happening now.
A survey by HR consultancy Development Dimensions International and recruitment firm Monster has found nearly three quarters of staffing directors believe competition for talent has got worse since 2005, and nearly eight out of 10 expect it to intensify even further this year.
The squeeze in available talent as baby boomers have ridden off into retirement is such that more than half of hiring managers feel they must "sell" jobs to candidates rather than the other way around.
The survey of 600 job seekers, 1,250 hiring managers and 620 staffing directors in the U.S, Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia/New Zealand also identified a clear gap between what candidates feel is important and what employers rate most highly.
Nearly three quarters of job seekers believed it was important to work for an organisation of which they could be proud.
Yet only half of staffing directors considered this an important issue for candidates.
Job seekers also cited insufficient compensation as their top reason for leaving a position, something ranked third by both hiring managers and staffing directors, who often blamed departures on "external factors".
Nearly a third of candidates polled said they had been in their current job for fewer than six months, yet they were already on the market for a new position.
And two thirds said their how much they liked or disliked their interviewer was either a moderate or significant factor in influencing their decision whether to join.
"Candidates are in a very powerful position – organisations need to think about hiring as a competitive practice if they want to attract the best people," said Scott Erker, senior vice president of DDI's Selection Solutions.
"Right now, there is a significant gap between what candidates want and what employers think they want. That's dangerous for organisations, because many don't understand the motivations of the candidate sitting right in front of them," he added.
"The recruiting industry has acknowledged for several years that retiring Baby Boomers, coupled with a tightening labour market, would eventually bring about an acute labour shortage. However, the survey findings indicate that this eventuality is already upon us," explained Neal Bruce, vice president of alliances at Monster.
"As a result, HR professionals will need to act more like their marketing colleagues, focusing more on the wants and needs of job seekers and effectively 'selling' their positions and organizations in order to attract and retain top talent," he added.
More than half of the staffing directors surveyed said they are finding fewer qualified professional candidates compared with two years ago.
By incorporating marketing elements, such as branding, sales and retention tactics, into recruitment campaigns, employers increased the likelihood of reaching and connecting with their target market, it added.