From education to employment

Skills gaps exasperated by short-term hiring patterns

Kay Cooper, Korn Ferry managing director, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) EMEA

Short Attention Span: Hiring Often Neglecting the Future by Focusing on Fulfilling Immediate Needs, 

Dynamic changes in business and a lack of focus on the future are impacting the way hiring professionals do their jobs. This is according to a new global survey by Korn Ferry.

Out of the 600 business leaders surveyed, 83% report having long-term talent acquisition plans, however 82% say that when finding talent it is a challenge to meet current business needs while planning for the future.

In the current skills shortage, it is vital that organisations are investing in talent that will help them accelerate towards strategic business objectives and prepare their organisation for the future.

While 83 percent of hiring professionals agree they have a long-term talent acquisition plan that ties directly into their strategic business plan, it appears that many are falling down on implementation. Forty percent admit they only forecast out six months or less for future hiring needs, with 16 percent saying they only plan for immediate needs. 

Eighty-two percent say that when it comes to finding talent, it’s a challenge to meet current business needs while planning for long-term business goals. When asked why this is so difficult, 57 percent said business leaders are only focused on the short term, and 22 percent said they don’t know what the long-term goals are, or what kind of talent will be needed.

It is true that the changes in business imperatives have never been more frenetic, but it’s critical that organisations work to predict future talent needs and either hire or retrain existing employees to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents (61 percent) say that it is more important to hire people who can adapt to changing business needs in the future vs. hiring people who can fit immediate vacancies.

In addition, 61 percent say that when considering the fast-changing environment and tougher competition for talent, they invest more in upskilling their existing employees than recruiting externally.

Nearly half (47 percent) say they have formal training programs in place to upskill their employees. Existing employees are a treasure trove of knowledge on how your organisation operates.


Retraining workers to meet tomorrow’s business priorities is a key part of workforce planning, along with making strategic new hires – people who can make an ongoing impact on the business.

Kay Cooper, Korn Ferry managing director, Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) EMEA

About the Survey – The global Korn Ferry survey was conducted in November and December 2018 and garnered responses from more than 600 talent acquisition professionals worldwide. Due to rounding, the sum of percentages for each question may not equal 100.

Survey Responses:

To what extent would you agree with the following: We have a long-term talent acquisition plan that ties directly into our strategic business plan

To a great extent                                                                                 23 percent

To some extent                                                                                   60 percent

To no extent                                                                                        17 percent

For what period of time do you plan for your future hiring needs

Only immediate needs                                                                        16 percent

6 months                                                                                             24 percent

A year                                                                                                  36 percent

1-3 years                                                                                             20 percent

3 years or more                                                                                     5 percent

Given the fast-changing environment and tougher competition for talent, do you invest more in:

Upskilling your team                                                                           61 percent

Recruiting externally                                                                           39 percent

To what extent do you agree with the following statement: Hiring people who can fit current vacancies is more important than hiring people who will be able to adapt to future roles

Strongly agree                                                                                    8 percent

Somewhat agree                                                                                 31 percent

Somewhat disagree                                                                            42 percent

Strongly disagree                                                                                19 percent

When it comes to finding talent, do you find it difficult to meet changing business needs?
Yes to a great extent                                                                          20 percent

Yes to some extent                                                                             62 percent

No to some extent                                                                               15 percent

No to a great extent                                                                              3 percent

If answered yes, why do you find it so difficult to be agile in managing current talent needs while planning for a future workforce that meets long-term business goals?

We don’t have the staff to do both                                                     21 percent

Business leaders are focused on short-term needs                          57 percent

We don’t know what the long-term goals are or what kind of  talent will be needed 22 percent

Do you have formal programs in place to retrain workers whose jobs have evolved?

Yes                                                                                                      47 percent

No                                                                                                       53 percent

What is the most effective talent acquisition strategy that you have found for navigating these conflicting priorities?

Implementing a strategic workforce plan                                           32 percent

Assessing an individual’s potential before hiring                               19 percent

Exploiting talent analytics and predictive analytics                              9 percent

Reviewing internal mobility programs and career plans                    17 percent

Using artificial intelligence to diversify sourcing strategy                     1 percent

Investing more in people development                                               22 percent

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