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Need a skills inventory? Cast your net wide!

March 1, 2018

During the recruiting process, you naturally make a list of the skills needed for a position, and measure candidates' skills against that list. But do you keep track of the skills your employees already possess? Do you have a current resume for someone who has been with your company for 5 years? 2 years?  If not, how are you doing really good analytics, or predictions?

In today's economy, most of your employees are probably keeping themselves marketable by continuing to grow and develop their skills, even when it's not tied to their current performance reviews. But are they sharing this data with you? Do you have a current skill inventory for your organization?

Here are the advantages of creating and maintaining an skill inventory:

  • Your business changes over time. As you assess your future needs, the impact of market forces, automation, and company positioning are constantly evolving. You need to know if your current talent pool is keeping pace with the changes and prospects of your company.
  • Leverage the talent you have. The average cost to recruit, hire, train, and onboard a new hire range from 1.5x - 3x their salary. If you can recruit from within, you save yourself time and money.
  • Identify gaps and weaknesses. A skills inventory allows you to analyze and evaluate the skills you possess, not just within individuals, but as a company. This level of insight into the whole organization helps you identify areas of growth or weakness, and better plan for your future needs.
  • Improve employee retention. If employees feel that developing new skills improve their value and create growth opportunities within their current company. A skills inventory allows you to be proactive, developing your current talent pool toward future needs, and giving employees a reason to stay. 

Of course, building and maintaining a skill inventory isn't easy. Here are the top challenges employers face:

Technical: Does your current employee tracking system and database contain hard and soft skills? Do you have systems and people in place to gather and maintain that data?

Procedural: How often would you update an employee profile? As mentioned above, your employees are currently growing and developing their skills, keeping their resumes and LinkedIn profiles current, but aren't necessarily sharing that data with you.  And how do you define the skills? Not everyone uses the same language to describe the same skills (for example, "software coding" vs. "software programming" vs. "software development").

Ethical: While it is fast and easy to use employee public data, like a LinkedIn profile, to update your internal skill inventory, your employees may feel that this is a violation of their privacy. The truth is, if you aren't using publicly available data to track your employee skills, your competitors probably are. Your talent pool is valuable, and if it's public, people are probably watching. The best way to overcome the ethical considerations are twofold:

  • Transparency. Allow employees to opt-in to your data collection, and make it clear what kind of data you will be gathering from their profiles, and how it will be used.
  • Voluntary compliance: If employees feel that developing new skills increases their value and creates new opportunities, they may voluntarily keep you up-to-date. If your skills inventory has identified weaknesses, you may use that information to enhance employee benefits, like workplace learning opportunities or tuition reimbursement programs. Such programs can strengthen and enrich the talent pool of the entire company, and improve retention in the process.

Managing these ethical challenges will go a long way toward making your employees feel comfortable with your data gathering and retention practices. As for the technical and procedural challenges with building and maintaining an employee skills inventory, SwoopTalent makes them a snap. Contact us for a demo, and see how strong you really are.

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