How to Prepare for the Toughest Talent Battle Every Person (and Organization) is Facing

This article, also published on LinkedIn, was co-authored by Denise Nichols, Marsh & McLennan’s Global Head of Talent Acquisition, and Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business. Denise and Ilya explore what’s changing in the talent market—for companies and the people they are looking to hire—and how businesses must be nimble to keep pace and continue to hire the best and the brightest.

Just a few years ago, when it came to acquiring talent, employers called the shots and talent needs were predictable. Today, the talent market is changing rapidly. Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends study brings 3 perspectives—business executive, HR professional and employee—to explore the biggest disruptors on the horizon, how HR thinks jobs will change, which skills are most in-demand and so much more.

We’re entering an era of ever more intense competition for talent; demand far outpaces supply. Artificial intelligence, robotics, drones and wearables are being rapidly integrated into the workplace and, yet, talent scarcity remains one of the biggest concerns employers have. Over the last five years, organizations have seen the time it takes to fill critical roles increase from 49 to 81 days, a sign of increased competition in the talent market. When opportunities arise, talent is typically “on the market” for a matter of days before being snatched up.

According to the Wall Street Journal, for every job advertised online, there are 219 applicants, and yet approximately 2 million jobs are sitting vacant in Europe and another 5 million in the US. This disparity between supply and demand, which affects all industries, geographies and functions, is largely believed to be the result of a growing skills gap—a gap that is leading to much more aggressive recruitment strategies for businesses in every industry.

Besides the gap, there is also a shift: according to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), 40% of the S&P 100 job postings in 2015 were for only 21 distinct roles. In fact, Mercer’s research shows that only 50% of skills required today will be relevant in 2020.

For Marsh & McLennan, this convergence of hiring needs means that we’re competing for talent against companies that have not traditionally been our competitors. We need to recruit for the skills and knowledge required to innovate and stay competitive. When we hire, it’s an opportunity to reconsider what skills and experiences are necessary moving forward, rather than trying to replace what we may have had before.


See Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends study to learn more.

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