The Skills Gap

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Lots of talk about a skills gap in the American workforce.

I think much of this is garbage, as you know. We do need people who can program and code — and we do need smarter graduates — but most of us have no idea how to do our jobs on day 1.

I have never been trained in Human Resources, marketing or social media. Nobody sat me down and gave me the six steps to source, screen, select and hire someone. I’ve never had a class on how to lay anyone off. Nobody taught me how to use social media marketing software or email automation software. And I’ve never had a moment where someone took me through the fifteen ways to generate leads for a customer.

In most cases, I’ve jumped in and figured things out. You can do that, too. My secret? I look at the googles, read books and have conversations with colleagues. Most times, I jump right in and get my hands dirty. I may do it wrong, but I don’t fear making mistakes. My learning curve is short. My success rate is high.

Modern-day workers are afraid of making mistakes because the consequences are so high. Managers and leaders are risk-adverse. There is no room for error on either side of the relationship. And margins are tight in America, too. If you can’t hire someone who immediately adds value to the business, it’s perceived to be a bad hire.

I miss the days when we hired for critical thinking skills. There was no training budget. You were trained by doing your job. (Some companies have modified versions of this approach.) And managers used a better selection methodology than asking, “What did you do before? Can you do that again? Can you start tomorrow? Can I pay you in peanuts?”

My message to American workers is simple. Give employers a reason to trust you. Be confident, be bold and have a high success rate. Learn from your errors. Don’t make the same mistake twice.

My message to leaders and hiring managers is equally simple. Sometimes a skill gap is mislabeled. It’s really a gap in trust. And if you don’t trust your hiring decisions and the intellect of your employees, maybe you shouldn’t be in a position to make hiring decisions.

But hey everybody ignore me and get back to freaking out about the skills gap in the American workforce. Go!

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