Part 1: The Top 5 Talent Acquisition Challenges Plaguing Project-Based Businesses in 2019

Posted by Amy Champigny on August 30, 2019

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This two part blog series will dive deeply into the top human capital management challenges facing project-based businesses today. In this first edition, the focus will be on the talent acquisition challenges currently hindering growth and progress. Finding, attracting and securing top talent is just the beginning. Talent acquisition challenges are affecting all areas of the business, but amid all the complications, there are opportunities to establish your firm as the firm a candidate wants to hear from.

The top five talent acquisition challenges facing project-based businesses in 2019:

  1. The availability of good candidates in the marketplace
  2. The ability to offer competitive compensation to candidates
  3. Matching qualified candidates to open positions
  4. Improving passive recruitment techniques
  5. Aligning talent acquisition goals with strategic organizational goals

Where Have All The Candidates Gone?

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Qualified Candidates are Scarce

The talent market is tight and even tighter for the industries that Deltek serves because of the types of highly specialized roles required. Moving candidates quickly through the process is part of the equation, but aiming for efficiency without considering the effectiveness of your talent acquisition methods and tools is a recipe for under performance. Efficiency certainly helps you reach the candidates at the top of the pool, but if your hires are ineffectual, then you might as well have sacrificed all that hard won efficiency. To reach the zenith of talent acquisition, you must be both efficient and effective.

What Can You Do About It?

Building relationships with prospective candidates earlier pays off when a candidate feels an affiliation with your firm before you even extend an offer.  Most companies struggle to communicate the right message to the right candidate at the right time. Leveraging Candidate Relationship Management tools to connect with prospective employees will have a significant impact on your ability to find, attract and secure top candidates by helping you to create the talent pipeline you need.

Candidates Are Receiving Competing Offers

Offering the right compensation package can mean the difference between securing the talent you want, keeping the talent you have, and losing a high performer to the competition. Identified as a top challenge, offering competitive compensation has an impact on your company’s ability to secure the strongest talent available, but don’t underestimate how important appropriate compensation is to retaining existing talent. If you haven’t benchmarked your compensation packages against the industry and similar roles lately, it is a good time to check in. Make sure you have all the data points you need heading into the upcoming budgeting season.

What Can You Do About it?

Add a benchmarking exercise to your annual salary budgeting process. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to understand what they are offering the same candidates you’re working hard to recruit. Work to showcase what you offer that your competitors don’t: flexible work arrangements, better benefits, extra vacation, etc. and remember that a solid salary and benefits package gives your company the advantage.  

The Right Fit for Open Positions

The struggle to match candidates to open positions has been steadily increasing. This challenge speaks to both the scarcity of qualified candidates and the ability of your recruiters to find a candidate that will fit into an open position. These two tightly linked challenges can affect productivity, utilization and your firm’s success rates when it comes to delivering projects on time and under budget. Fit is important and integral to team dynamics and ultimately, project delivery.

What Can You Do About it?

Stop looking for the resume-perfect candidate. With a shrinking pool of qualified talent, its unlikely you will always find the that obvious textbook candidate. Look at this as an opportunity to groom candidates with the right foundation of technical and soft skills that are all a good fit for your company culture. Look for potential and seek candidates with the ability learn fast.


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The Strongest Candidates May Not Be Actively Looking

Passive recruitment is continuing to grow in popularity as the talent market tightens. Keep in mind that 75% of candidates fall into this passive category. Passive candidates are employed and not actively looking for a new position, though research shows that 92% of employees are willing to entertain a new role for the right combination of compensation, company culture, and firm reputation. The quality of these candidates also tends to be higher than those found through traditional searches. Passive recruiting can help you foster relationships with possible candidates and build a stronger talent pipeline.

What Can You Do About It?

If you haven’t already implemented an employee referral program, this is a great place to start building relationships with passive prospective candidates. Some of the highest quality hires you could hope for are connected to high performers working for your company. Even ultra-passive candidates that are not interested in making a change can help you to expand your network and reach more open candidates. You may think this sounds a little like marketing or business development. If you have made that connection, you are definitely on the right track.

Preserve Culture and Organizational Alignment with Strategic Recruiting

When there are a growing number of open positions to fill, it can be difficult to think strategically about the hires you are able to get through the door. Company culture and organizational alignment start with the recruiter. The people you add to the workforce can have a very positive or a very negative impact. Earlier on, we thought about hiring for fit, that’s part of the equation here. The larger part of that equation, is strategically hiring and building teams based on forecasted future needs. For project-focused businesses, resource capacity and planning is the real mountain to climb.

What Can You Do About It?

All of the other challenges discussed above converge at this point. The ability to build a talent pipeline, offer the right compensation, find candidates that fit, and leverage your network of passive candidates can all support you efforts to build a talent acquisition strategy tied to organizational goals.


About the Author

Amy Champigny spent more than 15 years working in finance and accounting and most recently she served as Director of Finance for a management consulting group. In 2015 Amy implemented a Deltek ERP and transformed the finance function in her firm.