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How to Attract and Retain Scarce Talent

What do you do when one of the things your business needs most simply isn’t available? 

Depending on what industry you’re in, you may encounter inventory scarcity, when manufacturers are unable to produce goods on schedule, or shipping scarcity, when weather or strikes prevent wholesale orders from reaching retail destinations.

But talent scarcity is an issue that can strike any business at any time.


What is scarcity when it comes to hiring?

When HR departments start recruiting new talent, the hope is that they’ll encounter a slew of qualified candidates who are all eager to sign on the dotted line. 

This is obviously the best-case scenario because it puts the majority of the power in the hands of those doing the hiring. All those jobseekers are clamoring for a chance and you, the business owner or HR director, get to take the pick of the litter to further bolster your already impressive team.

Scarcity flips the power dynamic around. Now, you’re just one of a number of organizations after the same type of talent and that talent is hard to find.

There are a number of reasons for talent scarcity:

  1. Lack of qualified candidates.  According to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, they project roughly 22-32% increase in jobs for software developers, database administrators and network/computer system.  

With many jumping into early retirement and fewer entering into school for those STEM degrees, the labor shortage among IT is growing with more jobs than skilled candidates.

  1. Misalignment of employee and employer expectations. Most people don’t have the option to simply not work, but many would rather give up luxuries than take a job that they consider beneath their abilities. Employees want to work with companies that share their values and belief systems. They also want to be paid what they’re worth.
  2. Economic changes often inspire professional change. When COVID forced thousands of restaurants to shut their doors, millions of hospitality employees were left without any income. As restaurants reopened, managers were shocked to discover that a good portion of career servers and bartenders were electing not to return. They changed industries or started their own businesses. In this instance, the scarcity is industry-specific.

How talent scarcity can impact your organization

The danger of worker scarcity goes far beyond annoying our HR team. When organizations try to operate without the right number of employees, the burden on the remaining employees increases significantly. 

That can lead to 

  • reduced morale
  • reduced productivity
  • and an increased chance of burnout

As employees struggle to run the show shorthanded, companies could see even more turnover, creating a cycle of discontent and resignations that’s hard to stop.

3 ways to attract and retain scarce talent

Businesses can try to mitigate scarcity by making their companies as attractive as possible.

  • Hire outside the box. If you’re not finding talent locally using your existing job description, you need to change the job description or expand your search area. Perhaps both. If the position you’re hiring for allows it, consider offering remote work. Or, you could consider a hybrid model that requires only one day a week or a couple days a month in the office for client meetings and training sessions. That adjustment allows candidates with a longer commute to give your company serious consideration.
  • Deliver what employees really want. Modern employees want a modern workplace. Diversity, flexibility, inclusion, respect, value-driven company culture, opportunity for advancement, emphasis on continuing education, quality healthcare, vacation time — these are all things today’s jobseekers considered major motivators when choosing their next professional move.
  • Hire professional recruiters. People who recruit for a living know what a qualified, stable candidate truly looks like. When you hire smart, you decrease the chances of accidentally onboarding someone who’s a bad fit and could quit (or need to be fired) much sooner than anyone would like.

One of the best ways to combat worker scarcity is to find new ways to connect with top talent. At PeopleSERVE, we find people-oriented solutions to our client’s business challenges. Browse our case studies to see real-life examples of our team in action.


Compete and win your talent engagement through the leveraging of real time market analytics.

Dedicated to understanding your goals and interests, and introducing you to the right opportunities.

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