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Hannah Taylor

Staffing Smart: How to Identify Hiring Needs

Understanding how to identify hiring needs is tricky, but vital to building a vibrant workforce with the right skills. Luckily, data and tech are here to help.

Diving into recruitment without identifying your hiring needs first is a bit like heading to the grocery store without a shopping list. Sure, you might pick up some delicious ingredients - but what good is that if they’re not the right ones for your recipe?

If you want to build a highly skilled and motivated workforce, you need to find potential candidates who have the right skills, educational background, and attitude to excel in the jobs you’re recruiting for. And not only that - you need to be able to find them at the right time, so you don't have vacancies standing empty while your current employees struggle under an unnecessarily heavy workload.

But identifying your hiring needs can be incredibly tricky. Thankfully, data and technology can help simplify this aspect of the hiring process, helping you understand how your business goals and project requirements impact your hiring needs.

In this article, we’re looking at how to create the Goldilocks of workforces using data-driven strategic staffing practices. Or, in other words, a workforce that is ‘just right.’ Let’s jump in.

Why it's important to understand your hiring needs

Defining your hiring needs — the skills and experience new hires need to excel in their roles and align with company culture — is an important aspect of strategic staffing. This is the process of aligning your workforce with your business strategy by ensuring you have the right people in-house to ace your organizational objectives.

Once you understand your hiring needs, your recruitment team can take measures to ensure they hire the most suitable candidates at the right time to meet the future capacity demands of work coming down the pipeline.

Beyond informing your hiring strategy, understanding hiring needs offers a range of benefits - from boosting team productivity to supporting company culture.

Here are seven important benefits of understanding your hiring needs:

Streamlining the recruitment process: When hiring managers know what skills and personal qualities are must-haves in candidates, they can write accurate job descriptions and source qualified candidates faster. This decreases your time-to-hire and associated hiring costs.

Meeting workload demands: Hiring the right candidates with the right skills allows tasks to be distributed among the workforce effectively, which helps with…

Maintaining productivity: When you have the right talent in the right jobs, tasks will be consistently completed on time and to a high standard. Likewise, hiring people at the right time means that productivity won't be compromised by a lag in the time taken to get new candidates onboarded.

Addressing skill gaps: By uncovering which specific skills the current workforce lacks, you can create a hiring plan laser-focused on recruiting skilled workers to fill these gaps.

Attracting top talent: Top talent expects to receive a detailed job description, salary range, and list of expected hard skills when considering a new role. By offering this level of information upfront, you can manage candidates' expectations and attract the best talent.

Supporting business growth: Strategic hiring isn’t just about filling gaps in the current workforce’s abilities but up-skilling teams to meet future demands. Hiring employees with skills relevant to emerging trends helps ensure your company remains competitive.

Enhancing employee morale: Effective hiring practices focus on bringing diverse talent into the organization. This contributes to strong team dynamics, improving morale, and reducing turnover rates.

The challenges of identifying hiring needs

The larger and more complex your organization, the more challenging (and time-consuming) identifying your hiring needs becomes.

This is especially true when you rely on outdated methods and processes rather than using data to inform hiring decisions. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves; this is just one common challenge teams face when identifying hiring needs.

Not having someone to manage the hiring process

Hiring decisions don’t make themselves, unfortunately, which is why it’s helpful to have an expert available to manage recruitment. Most large businesses will have a Human Resources team that oversees the recruitment processes, but this isn’t a given — somewhat ironically.

So, the first leg of your team-building initiative may be to invest in hiring specialists in people management who can support this process, such as a staff manager, hiring manager, or people manager.

Struggling to anticipate the skills of the future

Whether you work in consulting or software engineering, industry trends driven by technological advancements are becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with.

Being able to anticipate the skills and roles that will benefit your organization not just now but in the future is key to staying ahead of the competition.

Lacking the data to make informed decisions

Should you upskill your existing workforce or invest in new hires? Create a second project management team or hire a new software engineer? Recruitment questions can be tough to answer — without the right data.

Many businesses fail to collect data on their current employees’ skill levels, which is essential to accurately identifying hiring needs and filling skill gaps.

Unclear sense of direction

Developing a resourcing strategy is critical to right-sizing your workforce for your project pipeline, ensuring you hire the right people with the right skills to meet your organization’s objectives.

But without an understanding of your business’s long-term objectives, this becomes impossible, as these goals play a key role in defining your ideal candidate and informing the creation of job specifications.

Your direction of travel has the potential to change your company’s growth plans, values, and ways of working, all factors that will impact either your hiring needs or how well new hires will assimilate with your culture.

It’s critical you nail this down before beginning a recruitment drive, or you risk new employees leaving due to misalignment.

How to identify hiring needs

So, how do you overcome these challenges and start the process of building the perfect team? Here are six activities proven to help businesses identify their hiring needs.

1. Consider the future of the business

As we’ve covered, your hiring needs will be closely tied to your organization’s plans for the future.

For example, if an agency wants to pivot into the consultancy world, its HR team may focus on upskilling its Client Managers to fulfill new project requirements. Or, if a company finds a niche working with French clients, it could look at hiring more bilingual team members.

Plus, by staying on top of trends in your industry and considering where you want your company to go in the coming years, you can better define your hiring goals.

2. Conduct capacity planning

Capacity planning is all about matching existing resources — including people — to anticipated demand, helping teams understand what resources they’ll need to deliver planned projects.

As your company and its output grow, you’ll need to keep a close eye on which teams require more resources. For example, if an IT consultancy takes on more software development projects, it’ll need to consider hiring more developers and project managers to take on the additional workload.

On the other hand, you may find certain roles are regularly underutilized, allowing you to downsize teams or reallocate resources, supporting optimal operational efficiency.

Monitor resource capacity in Runn

3. Create a skills inventory

When it comes to effective skills management, we’ve got one piece of advice: create a skills inventory.

A skills inventory is a database listing your employees’ educational qualifications, experience, skills, and seniority. This helps your HR team catalog your workforce's skills and map them against the organization's current and future needs, revealing any skills gaps.

4. Complete skills gap analysis

The clue’s in the name: skills gap analysis is a technique that helps your hiring manager identify any gaps between employees’ current skill sets and the skills the business needs to meet project requirements.

This is where your skills inventory comes in handy, revealing opportunities to upskill existing employees or to bring in new talent to plug larger gaps.

5. Create a staffing plan

A staffing plan is a strategic document that lays out your current personnel landscape, helping your hiring team determine whether you have the right people with the right skills to achieve short and long-term business goals.

Your staffing plan is also valuable to informing succession planning, revealing where upcoming retirements or planned promotions will leave skill gaps.

By plotting out the movement of skills and expertise within the company, you can easily see when external hires will be needed to fill vacancies.

6. Look beyond skill sets

It’s important to remember that you need to look beyond skill sets and consider the ideal candidate persona when mapping out your company's hiring needs. For example, what values should they embody? What personality traits will help them work well with existing team members? 

How tech can help inform your hiring strategy

Identifying hiring needs isn’t easy. But it can be. With tech on your side, you can leverage real-time data to understand what skills your workforce is lacking and build a plan for hiring success.

Here are just four of the many ways you can use Runn to identify skill gaps and build a successful hiring process.

Track employee data

Through a blend of automated timesheet entries and skill tagging, Runn allows you to create reports on everything from team member utilization rates to skill gap analysis.

Rather than relying on outdated (and unreliable) spreadsheets, keep track of your employee's skill sets in a clever tool that supports informed decision-making.

Invest in capacity forecasting

With all your project and employee information in one place, you know your capacity forecasting is accurate. Predict what resources you’ll need ahead of time and plug gaps before bottlenecks occur.

Build resource request workflows

At Runn, we use resource request workflows to support faster, better project delivery. A standardized process for requesting, approving, and allocating resources to projects, resource request workflows ensure people are assigned to current projects strategically.

resource request
Resource requests in Runn

And you can do this within your project timelines in Runn. All you need to do is add a placeholder in your project plan, showing which person you’d like to resource and when. Next, you submit this to your resource manager, who can then make an informed decision whether to grant the request, reallocate another employee to the project, or hire someone new to fill a skill gap.

Create hiring reports

Lastly, let Runn make the difficult decisions for you with our People Explorer Reporting Tool. This nifty tool generates reports full of helpful insights, including the total number of scheduled working hours for each role and the associated costs for hiring new employees.

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